I Kings 11



                                    Solomon’s Defection (vs. 1-13)


The observant reader will have already remarked in this history some intimations

of Solomon’s approaching fall.  Among these are, first, the repeated warnings which

are addressed to him, especially in ch. 9:6-9, and, second, his repeated transgressions

of the law by which he ruled. We have already heard of the multiplication of silver

and gold (ch.10:14-25), in defiance of Deuteronomy 17:17, and of the multiplication

of horses (1 Kings 10:27-29), in disregard of v.16 of the same chapter. We now read

how the ruin of this great prince was completed by the multiplication of wives.

The historian obviously had the words of Deuteronomy 17 in his mind as he wrote. It is

remarkable that the chronicler is altogether silent as to Solomon’s fall, as he is also as

to David’s sin.



1  But” – Hebrew – “and” – This chapter is a continuation of the previous chapter.

king Solomon loved” -  The polygamy was but a part of his worldliness, like the

chariots, gold, etc. -  “king Solomon loved” -  [The LXX. h+n filogounhv

philoguneloved women -  is misleading. It is perfectly clear that it cannot have

been mere sensuality that led to this enormous harem. This is evident from


  • his time of life. It was “when he was old”i.e., when passions are not

            at their strongest — that his wives turned away his heart.


  • The number — if the numbers are to be trusted — of his wives. A

            thousand concubines cannot be kept for mere purposes of passion.


  • The large number of princesses, which shows that the object of this

            array of mistresses was to enhance his state and renown. As he exceeded

            other kings in glory, wisdom, and power, so must he excel them not only

            in armies, chariots, and horses, but also in the number of his wives. It is

            clear, therefore, that the “lust of the eye” and “the pride of life”  -

            (I John 2:16) had their part in this huge establishment. The same

            consideration of state which leads a Western prince or noble to multiply

            horses, leads an Eastern prince to multiply wives, with often as little

            personal consideration in the one ease as in the other.


many” – Solomon is blamed for their number -  “strange (foreign) women,”

Proverbs 5:20; 6:24; 7:5, “together with the daughter of Pharaoh, - Pharaoh’s

daughter is regarded as his lawful wife – “women of the Moabites, Ammonites,”

Perhaps these two nations are mentioned first because such alliances as these,

though not forbidden in terms by the law, would nevertheless, from its spirit and

bearing towards these races, be looked upon with especial disfavour. If the

Ammonite or Moabite was not to be received into the congregation until the tenth

generation (Deuteronomy 23:3); if the Israelite was not to seek their peace or

prosperity all the days of his life (v. 6), then the idea of intermarriage with them

must have been altogether repugnant to the Hebrew polity, as indeed we may

gather from the book of Ruth -  Edomites,” - Favourably distinguished

(Ibid. v. 7) from the two preceding races. The Edomite was a “brother.”

His children of the third generation might enter into the congregation -  

Zidonians, and Hittites;”


As stated above, Solomon’s wives were strange women.


  • Not only were they foreigners, they were also idolaters. There is no

            proof that even Pharaoh’s daughter was a proselyte. Solomon could have

            no spiritual sympathy with these without compromising his loyalty to



  • They were idolaters of those very nations against alliances with which

      the law of God was express (here; Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

      The sin was therefore most flagrant.


  • The spirit of this inhibition still binds (see I Corinthians 7:39; II Corinthians

      6:14). The reason for it is in the nature of things and must abide. Note: Many

      a man has had his heart pierced and his head broken by his own rib (Genesis



  • David had too many wives.


ü      The example of David may have injuriously influenced Solomon. A

                        large harem may have been a sign of grandeur; but these kings ought

                        to have been superior to such fashions (see Deuteronomy 17:17).


ü      The evils in the examples of good men are especially mischievous, for

                        they are liable to be condoned into harmlessness; (compare the

                        influence of the indiscretions, while in office, of President Bill Clinton

                        on the youth of America – a la – “monkey see, monkey do” – CY –

                        2010) - the more readily so when to follow them is agreeable to

                        natural inclination.


ü      They are liable to be carried farther. If David had many wives, Solomon

                        had very many. David’s wives were chiefly daughters of Israel, but

                        Solomon’s were daughters of foreign idolaters. Amongst his 700 wives

                        and 300 concubines, not one was good (see Ecclesiastes 7:28). Note:

                        Good men should be especially watchful over their influence

                        parents, ministers, Sunday school teachers, Christians.


2  Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children

of Israel,” - Of the nations just enumerated, the law expressly forbade marriage

with the Hittites alone (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4), though the

Zidonians are probably to be included, as being Canaanites (Genesis 10:15).

But the principle which applied in the ease of the seven nations of Canaan

applied equally to all other idolaters. “They will turn away thy son from

following me,” (Deuteronomy 7:4). The spirit of the law, consequently, was

as much violated by an Edomite or Ammonite as by a Hittite alliance.

 “Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you:”

The historian does not cite any special Scripture, however, but gives the

substance of several warnings -  “for surely they will turn away your

heart after their gods:” (Exodus 34:16) - “Solomon clave” - same word

as in Genesis 2:4 – “unto these” -  emphatic in Hebrew -  “even to these,

instead of cleaving to God (Deuteronomy 4:4; 10:20; 30:20) -  each of which

 has the same word as here, despite the prohibitions of the law - “in love.”


3  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred

concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.” - Satan hath found this

bait to take so well that he never changed since he crept into Paradise.


4  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned

away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with

the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”  Note the

progress of this evil:


  • First the heart is set against the head.


ü      The earliest record here is that Solomon’s heart was turned away.

      His head at first seems to have been clear, as Adam’s also was, who,

      though in the transgression, yet was “not deceived” (I Timothy 2:14).

      But his heart, like that of Adam, was fatally susceptible to female

      influence.  (Apparently, Solomon became very liberal and broad in

      his personal views, he was far advanced from the traditional knowledge

      of that age, and often conversed with wise men of other creeds.  Slowly

      he lost his sense of THE PRE-EMINENCE OF THE TRUTH

      REVEALED TO HIM!  Solomon’s moral history confirmed the truth

      of his own proverb “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool”

      (Proverbs 28:26).


ü      It is a foolish thing in a wise man to trust his head when he gives his

                        heart to evil. “Man at his best state is altogether vanity.”  (Psalm 39:5)

                        Solomon’s love became debased to lust, because it was divorced from

                        purity.  Physically as well as morally, he became a wreck, and though

                        not sixty years old when he died, he was already weary, broken and

                        old.  Some light may be thrown upon his downward progress by the

                        books which bear his name, and which, if not written by him, were

                        declarations of the experience he knew.  If the Song of Solomon

                        represents his bright youth, when love, though passionate, was

                        undefiled, the book of Ecclesiastes is the outcry of his age, when all

                        seemed “vanity and vexation of spirit,” and when he tried once

                        more painfully to lay the old foundation of the shattered fabric of

                        his life (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Compare him with Samson; note how the

                        indulgence of passion destroys kingliness. Even such sin was not

                        beyond pardon. It would have been well for Solomon had he returned

                        to God, as his father had done (see Psalm 51.)


  • Then the heart rules the head.


ü      This is the next stage and inevitable. This may be disputed long, but

                        will assert itself in time. Observe well that when Solomon was “old”

                        he so far yielded to the influence of his wives as to encourage and join

                        in their idolatry.


ü      Probably his vices made him prematurely old. Calmet supposes him to

                        have been eighteen years old when he came to the throne, and he

                        reigned forty years (v. 42). Thus he could be only fifty-eight at his death.


  • Finally the wise man becomes a fool.


ü      Behold this wisest of men trying to solve the impossible problem of

                        serving Jehovah and Ashtaroth! He went not fully after the Lord his

                        God as did David his father.


ü      David indeed fell into grievous sin, but his offence was more directly

                        against man; indirectly against God. Even then the offence as against God

                        was the venom of his crimes (Psalm 51:4). But the sin of Solomon was

                        against God directly. Note: Offences against society are denounced

                        without mercy by men, while the mental rebellion of the unbeliever against

                        God is even glorified as “honest doubt!” but the Bible is explicit that “He

                        that believeth not shall be damned.”  (Mark 16:16)


ü      Behold this wise man further building a temple to Molech, the

                        murderer, the devil, on the Mount of Olives, over against the temple of the

                        Lord, the glorious work of his royal youth! Could folly go farther?


ü      The mischief of Solomon’s idolatry remained to the times of Josiah (360

      years later – (see II Kings 23:13). Who can say that it terminated even

      then?  Eternity will declare!


5 “For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians,” –

tr,Tov][", Asta>rth, - Astarte – Ashtoreth - probably connected with ajsth>r,

stella, and star, by some  identified with the planet Venus, by others with the moon,

is here mentioned for the first time in the singular (Ashtaroth, plural, is found in

Genesis 14:5; Judges 2:13; 10:6; I Samuel 7:4; 12:10) -  With Baal, she divided

the worship of the Phoenicians, the antiquity of which is evident from Genesis

14:5; Numbers 22:41. It was really an impure cultus of the reproductive powers –

(promiscuous sexuality, if you will – CY – 2010)  - and after Milcom” –

According to Gesenius,  the same as Molech (i.e., the king) in v. 7. This is “the

first direct historical allusion” to his worship in the Old Testament. A warning

against it is found Leviticus 20:2-5. He was the fire god, as Baal was the sun god,

and the sacrifices offered to him were those of children, who would seem to

have not only “passed through the fire,” but to have been burnt therein (Psalm

106:37-38; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; Ezekiel 23:39) – “the abomination [the hateful,

detestable idol] of the Ammonites.”  (One cannot imagine the judgment of God

upon those who have been instrumental in 45,000,000 children being aborted in

the United Statees I recommend Abortion Rationale – 2009 - # 8 this web

site – CY – 2010)


6  And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully

after the LORD, as did David his father.  7 “Then did Solomon build an

high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab,” - Chemosh was

the god of war. The mention of Ashtar-Chemosh on the Moabite stone

connects the Moabite religion with the Phoenician,” where Ashtar is the

masculine form of Astarte - It is probable that Chemosh, Baal, Ashtoreth,

Molech, etc., were originally so many names of the one supreme God, worshipped

under different attributes, and with various rites in different countries - “in the hill

that is before Jerusalem,” (see II Kings 23:13) - The hill is of course the mount

of Olives. The altar would seem to have stood on the south peak, which is now

known, as it has been for centuries past, as the Mons Scandali, (mount of

scandal) or the Mons Offensionis (mount of offense) - the Vulgate rendering of

II Kings 23:13 – “and for Molech, the abomination of the children of

Ammon.”  (So much for religious tolerance in reality, or theory  - think of

the import today with progressive secularists opening the door of America’s

heart to Islam – CY – 2010)


8  And likewise did he for all his strange wives,” – Solomon, having done

it for one, he must needs do it for all and no hill about Jerusalem was free from a

chapel of devils -  “which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.”

Solomon built the altars and his wives sacrificed thereon.  Incense is mentioned

before sacrifices because vegetable took precedence over animal offerings in

the nature worship of Western Asia.  In reference to bloodless sacrifices,

note Cain’s offering in Genesis 4 – the Bible teaches “without shedding of

 blood is no remission” (of sins – Hebrews 9:22)





What led to Solomon’s sin?  He had pious parentage, a religious education, a

promising youth, extraordinary intellectual endowments, frequent warnings of

his danger, and yet he failed and fell short of the glory of God!


  • Unregulated affections.


ü      Worldly alliances

ü      Worldly friendships.


·        The despising of God’s commandments.


ü      The counsels of God were lightly esteemed.  (Many commands

      of God are today held to be antiquated and are quietly ignored.

      The directions of Scripture in regard to what are deemed minor

                        things are set aside. The spirit of unbelief is there. For individuals

                        and for churches it must prove a seed of sin and spiritual disaster.


  • Human love displaced the Divine. The spirit of disloyalty needed

            only a strong enough inducement to go further, and it found it here. To

            please his wives, altars to their gods were built on Mount Olivet, and then

            his own soul was taken in the snare of their abominations.


We see, then, that the essence of this sin was that having permitted himself, or

purposes of state and pride and ostentation, the love of many strange women, he

permitted them, and possibly some of his subjects also, to worship their false gods.

And by so doing:


  • He gave a direct sanction to superstition.  Solomon no doubt rationalized

      his actions but it was not thus that the God of his fathers viewed the deed.

      This philosophic tolerance of other creeds, He called the teaching of falsehood.

      He was leading poor souls away from the light and changing the truth of God

      into a lie (Romans 1:25). It was “making the blind to wander out of the way”

      (Deuteronomy 27:18) in the worst possible sense of the words.


  • He encouraged immorality and cruelty. For it must never be forgotten

            what the “abominations” of these Semitic divinities were like. The idolatry

            of the East always involved impurity; hence its powerful hold on a nation

            like the Jews, for whom the worship of “silver and gold, the works of

            men’s hands,” could have had but little charm. Its “vile affections”

            (Romans 1:26) were its chief attractions. And Solomon, who knew

            what the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth meant, who knew how unclean

            were their rites, and what painful and shameful sacrifices Molech and

            Chemosh demanded of their votaries, nevertheless gave the word, and

            presently the hills about Jerusalem were crowned with chapels of devils.


  • He dishonored the one true God. (Deuteronomy 6:4), “Hear O Israel,

            the Lord our God is one Lord.” But Solomon robbed Him of His rights;

            of the exclusive sovereignty and the undivided authority which belonged to

            God alone. By building idol altars he claimed homage for idol deities; before

            the eyes of the Lord’s people, he thrust rivals and pretenders on to the Lord’s

            throne, and degraded “the uncorruptible God into an image made like

            to corruptible man.” (Romans 1:23).


  • He defied the Holy One of Israel. For these altars of lust and cruelty

            were not built in a corner. They did not shrink from the light as in a past

            age; they were not frequented by pagasi. They rose “on the hill that is

            before Jerusalem;” (v. 7) - they fronted the altar of Jehovah; their priests

            were visible to the priests in the temple court; their smoke ascended to the sky

            along with the smoke of the daily sacrifice. If insult had been designed, it

            could hardly have been more open or obtrusive.


It is said of Solomon “even him did outlandish women cause to sin” (Nehemiah

13:26).   He was one of those select secretaries whose hand it pleased the Almighty

to employ in three pieces of the Divine monuments of sacred Scriptures (Proverbs,

Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. He is fallen, but his writings stand. He still

preaches to others, though himself a castaway.  There have been authors whose

pestilent writings go on corrupting and destroying souls for ages after they have

ceased to speak. But Solomon’s is in some respects a sadder case than theirs. His

writings have taught and blessed the world for nigh three thousand years after he

himself fell into “utter wretchlessness of most unclean living.”  It is strange that

one who knew the priceless value of one true woman’s love (Proverbs 31:10-31)

should surrender himself to immodest and forbidden women.  Can there be a

reference to his thousand wives and concubines in those pessimist words of

Ecclesiastes 7:26-28?   If one woman undid all mankind, what marvel is it if many

women undid one?”


9 “And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was

turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto

him twice,” - The anger arose partly from the exceptional favors which

had been shown to him.


It was after repeated warnings. He had had the:


  • standing warning of Scripture (Deuteronomy 17:16 sqq.),
  • the special warnings of his father David (ch. 2:3-4, and especially

            I Chronicles 28:9),

  • the supernatural warnings of God. (chps. 3:14; 6:12-13; 9:6-7).

            And to these may surely be added

  • the repeated and emphatic warnings which he had himself addressed to

            others. But all these went for nothing. And so it is too probable his own

            words “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall

            suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Proverbs 29:1)

            found a fulfillment in his own person. The saddest consideration of all is

            that this great preacher has unconsciously predicted his own fall, and

            passed sentence on himself. “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee,

            (Luke 19:22).


10 “And had commanded him concerning this  thing, that he should not go

after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.” 


11  Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is

done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes,

which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from

thee, and will give it to thy servant.”  This was probably by a prophet,

Ahijah or Iddo – there would hardly be a third appearance!  The message

was that “a servant” should be heir to his glory.  For a hireling Solomon’s

vast treasures had been prepared.  This verse should be read in light of

Ecclesiastes 2:18.


Solomon may have excused his sin to himself because it conciliated neighboring

princes and nations and so strengthened his kingdom. But while he fancied himself

building up, he was in reality casting down. Forgetfulness of God is

 forgetfulness of one’s own good.


The dominion is given to a servant. There is not only loss but shame. There are

first that will be last, and last first (Mark 9:35).   Solomon’s rebellion and

ingratitude are punished by rebellion and ingratitude. The kingdom is rent

from him by a subject, and by one whom he had trusted and advanced (v. 28).

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap  (Galatians 6:7).

As the wicked have shut out God, God will shut out them.


12  Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's

sake:” – The threatening had two gracious and merciful limitations:


  • The blow should not fall until after his death (v. 34) and,


  • The disruption should be but partial. There should be a “remnant”

                        Romans 9:27; 11:5 - for David thy father’s sake [because

            both of David’s piety and God’s promise to him (II Samuel 7:13)


 but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.”


13  Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one

tribe” – Judah – “the tribe of Judah only” (ch. 12:20) – Even the

reservation of one tribe is called a gift -  “to thy son for David my servant's

sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.”  But for this provision,

Jerusalem would have ceased to be the religious capital. When the scepter

departed from Judah, we may be sure that the “envy of Ephraim” (Isaiah 11:13)

would have demanded that the city of their solemnities should be placed elsewhere –

at Shiloh, which for 400 years had been God’s “bright sanctuary,” or at Bethel,

which from far earlier times had been a holy place. (See on ch.12:29, 32).


The above is the inevitable consequence of sin. Had God expressed no displeasure

against Solomon, what mischief might not his example have wrought? The terrible

judgments of the Great Day will have a most salutary effect upon the order and

stability of the whole moral universe. If men sufficiently considered these things

they would hesitate before they plunged into vices. Let us be admonished

from this history!


SIN WORKS RUIN!  It ruins individuals, families, nations.



                                    A SHORT SYNOPOSIS OF vs. 1-13


After the consecration of the temple Solomon reached the culminating point of his

reign, both in a spiritual and temporal point of view. His fame and his dominion

continued to increase. The Queen of Sheba came from the far East to pay him homage.

From this summit of glory he had a sudden and shameful fall, and became all but an

apostate.  This son of David, whose high honor it was to have built and consecrated

the temple of Jehovah, this heir of the promises on which hung the salvation of

 mankind, sank into idolatry. The causes of his fall were:


  • PRIDE: he forgot to give glory to God.
  • LUST: strange women enticed him after strange gods (v, 8).


The fall of Solomon repeats in a manner the features of the first transgression.

It began in the desire to be as God, and was consummated in the gratification

of the flesh.  Its emphatic warning to all God’s people is, “Let him that thinketh

he standeth, take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). Chastisement

from God is the consequence of this fall. God had already warned Solomon

that His most glorious promises were contingent on obedience to His

commands. “If thou walk in my ways,” etc. ( 3:13-14). God

chastens Solomon because He loves him, and does not altogether take His

mercy from him, since He still leaves the kingdom of Judah to his

descendants. The book of Ecclesiastes, with its blending of bitterness and

repentance, is perhaps the ripening fruit of this merciful severity.



                                    Solomon’s Adversaries (vs. 14-43)


As the historian has collected together in chps. 6, 7, 8 all the information he can

convey respecting the temple, and in chps. 9 and 10 all the scattered notices

respecting Solomon’s power and greatness, so here he arranges in one section

the history of Solomon’s adversaries. It must not be supposed that the following

records stand in due chronological order. The enmities here mentioned did not date

from the delivery of the message of which we have just heard; on the contrary, the

hatred and opposition of Hadad and Rezon began at an early period, though not

the earliest (ch. 5:4), of Solomon’s reign. It was only in his later life, however, that

they materially affected his position and rule; hence it is that they are brought before

us at this stage of the history, and also because they are manifestly regarded as

chastisements for Solomon’s sin.


14  And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the

Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom.  15 For it came to pass, when

David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury

the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom;” – this is hyperbolical –

it is clear that the whole Edomite nation did not perish.  The words point to a

terrible slaughter (see I Chronicles 18:12-13) – here Abishai is credited with

slaying the Edomites where in Psalm 60, according to the title, Joab did the

slaying – the two brothers were both in high command, or Abishai may have

been detailed by Joab to this service.  16 (For six months did Joab remain

there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:)  17 That

Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to

go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child.”


18  And they arose out of Midian,” - Midian embraces the eastern portion of

the peninsula of Sinai (Exodus 2:15; 3:1), and stretches along the eastern border

of Palestine. The term has been compared with our “Arabia.” And the indefiniteness

arises in both instances from the same cause, that the country was almost entirely

desert. Midian would thus extend along the back or east of Edom - “and came to

Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, (as guides through the desert

and possibly as a protection also) – “and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh

king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and

gave him land.  19 And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so

that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes

the queen.  20 And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son,

whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh's house: and Genubath was in

Pharaoh's household among the sons of Pharaoh.  21 And when Hadad

heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain

of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may

go to mine own country.”  It comes out very significantly here what a name of

terror Joab’s had been in Edom and how deep was the impression which his

bloody vengeance of a quarter of a century before had made. 


22 Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that,

behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he answered, Nothing:

howbeit let me go in any wise.  23 And God stirred him up another adversary,

Rezon the son of Eliadah,” - Whether he was a usurper, who had dethroned

Hadad (see Josephus., Ant., 6:5. 2), or an officer of Hadadezer’s, who escaped

either before or after the battle of II Samuel 8:3-5, is uncertain. The following words

agree equally well with either supposition -  “which fled from his lord Hadadezer

king of Zobah:  24 And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over

a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and

dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.  25 And he was an adversary to

Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he

abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.”


26 “And Jeroboam” - Viewed in the light of their history, the names Jeroboam

and Rehoboam are both instructive. The first means, “Whose people are many;”

the second, “Enlarger of the people.” The latter might almost have been bestowed

in irony, the former by way of parody - “the son of  Nebat,” - The case of

Jeroboam is now related at much greater length, not so much because of the

importance of the rebellion at the time, as because of its bearing on the later history

of Israel. It led to the disruption of the kingdom and the schism in the Church.

It was the first great symptom of the decadence of the power of Solomon; of his

decline in piety we have had many indications. We see in it an indication that the

Hebrew commonwealth has passed its zenith - “an Ephrathite” - Ephraim was

the ancient rival of Judah, and by reason of its numbers, position, etc., might well

aspire to the headship of the tribes (Genesis 49:26; 48:19; Deuteronomy 33:17;

Joshua 17:17) -  of Zereda, Solomon's servant, whose mother's name was

Zeruah, a widow woman” - His mother’s name is recorded, probably because

his father, having died early, was comparatively unknown. But it is not impossible

that the similarity either with Zeruiah (ch. 1:7) or Zererah had something to do

with its preservation. The people would not readily forget that Solomon’s other

great adversary was the son of Zeruiah.  And we have many proofs how much the

Jews affected the jingle of similar words, “even he lifted up his [Hebrew a] hand”

[i.e., rebelled. Synonymous expression II Samuel 18:28; 20:21. Observe, we have

no history or account of this rebellion except in the LXX., but merely of the

circumstances which led to it] – “against the king.”  27  And this was the

cause that he lifted up his hand against the king:  Solomon built Millo,

and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father.”  We understand

the word, “repaired” consequently, not of a part broken down, but of a portion

unbuilt.  As Millo was built about the 25th year of Solomon’s reign (ch. 9:15),

we are enabled to fix approximately the date of Jeroboam’s rebellion. It was

apparently about ten or twelve years before Solomon’s death.  28 And the man

Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor: and Solomon seeing the young man

that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house

of Joseph.” - The tribe of Ephraim, with its constant envy of Judah, must have

been mortified to find themselves employed — though it was but in the modified

service of Israelites — on the fortifications of Jerusalem. Their murmurings

revealed to Jeroboam the unpopularity of Solomon, and perhaps suggested

thoughts of overt rebellion to his mind.


29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem,

that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite” – Nathan was probably now dead and

this portion of the history is probably derived from Ahijah’s writings mentioned in

II Chronicles 9:29 -  found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a

new garment; and they two were alone in the field:  30 And Ahijah caught

the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:” – the first

instance of an acted parable in the Bible.  31  And he said to Jeroboam, Take

thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I

will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes

to thee:” - Keil insists that “ten”is here mentioned merely as the number of

completeness; that, in fact, it is to be understood symbolically and not

arithmetically. He further states that in point of fact the kingdom of Jeroboam

only consisted of nine tribes, that of Simeon being practically surrounded by

the territory of Judah, and so becoming incorporated in the southern kingdom.

But surely, if that had been the idea in the prophet’s mind, it would have

been better expressed had he torn off one piece from the garment and given

the rest, undivided, to Jeroboam. And the reference to the number of the tribes is

unmistakable. As to Simeon, we have no means of knowing what part that

tribe, if it still existed, took at the division of the kingdom. See on ch.19:3.

Its members had long been scattered (Genesis 49:7), and it gradually

dwindled away, and has already disappeared from the history.  But even if it

had a corporate existence and did follow the lead of Judah, still that is not

conclusive on the question, for we know not only that the historian uses

round numbers, but also that we are not to look for exact statements, as

the next verse proves. 


32 (But he shall have one tribe” – Some would understand “one tribe, in

addition to Judah,” but compare ch.12:20, “tribe of Judah only,” and see

note on v.13. Possibly neither Judah nor Benjamin is here to be thought of

separately. In  ch.12:21, and II Chronicles 11:3, 23, they are both reckoned to

Rehoboam. They might be regarded as in some sense one, inasmuch as they

enclosed the Holy City, the line of division passing right through the temple

platform. But it is perhaps safer, in view of ch.12:20, to understand the term

of Judah, compared with which large and influential tribe “little Benjamin” was

hardly deserving of separate mention - “for my servant David's sake, and

for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes

of Israel:)  33 Because that they (in the plural to show that Solomon was

not alone in his idolatrous leanings – “have forsaken me, and have

worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god

of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and

have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes,

and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.

34  Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I

will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's

sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my

statutes:”  If Solomon break his covenant with God, God will not break

His covenant with the father of Solomon!  35 But I will take the

kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.”

36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may

have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen

me to put my name there.  37 And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign

according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.”

We have absolutely no proof that Jeroboam at that time had ever meditated

rebellion. It is quite possible that the idea was inspired by this interview.

38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee,

and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep

my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that

I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David,

and will give Israel unto thee.”  (Will not anyone take God seriously

or accept His gracious offer?  And then again, how have you and I

reacted to this offer in our own homes? – CY – 2010)  There was no

promise to Jeroboam, as there was to David, of an enduring kingdom.

It was not God’s design to take away the kingdom from David in perpetuity.

39 And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.”  This

promises, if not a restoration of the kingdom to the house of David, at any rate

a renewal or continuance of God’s favor. We may perhaps regard the promise

as fulfilled in the subsequent history of the kings of Judah. Not only did the kingdom

last for nearly 500 years, but the royal house of David maintained its position to

the time of Zerubbabel. Nor is it to be overlooked that He “of whose

kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33) was the son of David.


40  Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose,

and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt

until the death of Solomon.”  The prophecy of Ahijah was  no justification

of treason or attack on Jeroboam’s part. The fact that God had revealed His

purposes was no reason why Jeroboam should forestall them. David knew and

others knew that he was destined to be king, but he piously left it for God, in His

own time and way, to place him on the throne.  Jeroboam’s rebellion is the more

inexcusable, because Ahijah had expressly stated that Solomon was to retain the

kingdom during his lifetime.  However “he lifted up his hand;” (v. 26) - there

was some overt act of rebellion, and Solomon, because of this, and not because

of the prophecy (of which, indeed, he may never have heard), sought to slay him.

Nor was the king without justification in so doing. Treason must be promptly

suppressed, and treason against a benefactor (see v. 28) is doubly hateful.


41 And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his

wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?  The

sources of this history are mentioned more specifically in II Chronicles 9:29.

42  And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was

forty years.”  It is somewhat remarkable, but affords no just ground for suspicion,

that each of the first three kings of Israel should have reigned just forty years. Such

numerical coincidences occur in exact history. Saosduchinus, Chiniladanus, and

Nabopolassar, three consecutive kings of Babylon, reigned each twenty-one years.


43  And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of

David his father: and Rehoboam his son” - So far as appears his only son.

“Solomon hath but one son, and he no miracle of wisdom.” Many a poor

man hath a houseful of children by one wife, whilst this great king hath but

one son by any housefuls of wives. It is worth remembering in this connection

that Psalm 127., which speaks of children as God’s reward (v. 3), is with good

reason ascribed to Solomon - “reigned in his stead.” 




                                         ADDITIONAL NOTES


                        The Punishment of Solomon’s Sin (vs. 31-35)


We have lately traced the gradual declension in piety of this most powerful

prince; we have seen him steadily sowing to the wind. The next thing

Scripture records concerning him is the retribution which befell him. It is

now for us to see him reaping to the whirlwind.  But in considering the

recompenses of his sin, it is essential to remember:


  • That we can only speak, because we only know, of the temporal

            punishment which attended him. It may be that was all. Possibly the

            flesh was destroyed that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord

            (I Corinthians 6:5). It may be that, foully as he fell, he did not fail finally,

            but of this no man can be certain. It may be, therefore, that he still awaits

            the just recompense of wrath in the day of wrath (Romans 2:5).


  • That if this temporal punishment does not strike us as severe —

            considering the enormity of his sin and the greatness of the gifts and

            privileges he had abused — it is partly because the temporal punishment

            was mitigated for his father’s sake. The avenging hand could not smite

            Solomon without at the same time hurting David. We are expressly told

            that Solomon was maintained on the throne all his life, and that one tribe

            was given — the word implies that the gift was unmerited — to his

            son, for David’s sake (vs. 34-36). If, therefore, we are tempted to think

            that the punishment was not exemplary, let us see in it an instance of God’s

            showing mercy unto thousands” (sc., of generations, Exodus 20:6) —

            a proof of the Infinite Love which “remembered David and all his

            afflictions(Psalm 132:1). But such as it was, it was sufficient to teach

            us these two lessons at least:


ü      “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

ü      “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).


            For this retribution was of two kinds. There was:




ü      His life was shortened. Probably by the operation of natural laws.

      It is not suggested that he was directly smitten of God; it is quite

      possible that his rank voluptuousness destroyed his energies and

      induced premature decay. But all the same his days were cut short.

      Not only was long life the principal sanction of the dispensation under

      which he lived, but it had been expressly promised him as the reward

      of piety (ch. 3:14). But his sun went down while it was yet noon. He

      was not sixty when the mandate went forth, “Remove the diadem,

                        and take off the crown” (Ezekiel 21:26).  If the old saying is true,

                        that great and rare earthly possessions make deathbeds miserable,”

                        it must have cost Solomon a sharp pang to leave so soon his cedar

                        palace and his chryselephantine throne.


ü      His life was embittered. If, as is most probable, we have in the book

      of Ecclesiastes a chapter of his autobiography, it is clear that his glory

                        brought him little satisfaction (ch. 3. passim; 5:13; 6:12; 7:26); there

                        was a worm at the root of all his pleasures. Of what avail were his

                        houses, his gardens, his pools of water, etc., so long as he had not the

                        heart to enjoy them?


                                    “It is the mind that maketh good or ill,

                                        That maketh wretch’d or happy, rich or poor,

                                    For some, that hath abundance at his will,

                                        Hath not enough, but seeks a greater store.”


                        He knew nothing of “the royalty of inward happiness.” How different

                        Paul, “Having nothing, yet possessing all things,  (II Corinthians

                        6:10). What a commentary on the “confessions” of Solomon, as they

                        have been called, with their everlasting refrain, their vanitas vanitatum,

                        vanity of vanities” is that confession of a man who suffered one long

                        martyrdom of pain.


ü      He was tortured by remorse. This is not expressly stated, but surely it

                        may with good reason be inferred. For the wisest of men could not be so

                        insensate, when he heard the message of doom (ch.11:11), as not

                        to reflect how different his end was to be from his beginning; how fair the

                        flower, and how bitter the fruit. Surely the cry he has put into others’ lips

                        would often rise from his own, “How have I hated instruction,”

                        (Proverbs 5:12).


ü      He was haunted by forebodings. “This great Babylon which he had

                        builded, how soon should it be destroyed. The empire which he had

                        consolidated should barely last his life. “One tribe” — how those words

                        would ring in his ears! Then he had good reason, too, to fear that his son

                        was one of the class he had himself described (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20;

                        17:25; 19:13. Cf. Ecclesiastes 2:19), and no match for Jeroboam, of

                        whose designs upon the throne he cannot have been ignorant (ch.11:26-27).

                        He had the mortification of knowing that his “servant” would enter into his

                        labors. And to the prospect of dissensions within, was added the certainty

                        of disaffection without. Hadad and Rezon were already on his border, and

                        were only biding their time. The political horizon was indeed black and



ü      He was harassed by adversaries. For it is clear from vs. 14, 28, 26,

                        that Solomon’s enemies were not content to wait for his death. Damascus

                        was a thorn in his side. Egypt was a hotbed of intrigues. The profound

                        peace which he once enjoyed he had lost. The clouds of war were not

                        only gathering, but some of them had burst. His throne of ivory and gold

                        can have been but an insecure and uncomfortable seat for some time

                        before he vacated it.




            But men like Solomon think of posterity and of posthumous fame as

            much as of themselves. If every father has “given hostages to fortune,”

            how much more vulnerable is a king in the person of his successor. Let us

            now trace the calamities which betel Solomon’s house and kingdom.


ü      In the infatuation of his son. Was there ever a political crisis

      so woefully mismanaged as that which marked Rehoboam’s

      accession? A few pacific words, a graceful concession, and all

      would have gone well. But his brutal non possumus (inability

      to do anything about the situation) precipitated his downfall. It

      was enough to make Solomon turn in his grave. But it is for us to

      remember that “his mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess

      (ch. 14:21, 31). And this is the result of multiplying wives.


ü      In the dismemberment of his kingdom. The vast empire which

      Solomon had founded with so much care and pains, how short a

      time sufficed to tear it asunder. What a contrast between the

      one tribe” with its barren territory, and the description of  ch.

      4:20-21. How had he spent his strength for naught, or rather for

      his slave Jeroboam, who inherited all the fairest and wealthiest

      portions of the realm. And this was the end of his land hunger —

      that he was left with the desert of Judah.


ü      In the invasion of Shishak. For he had not long slept with his

      fathers when the vast treasures which he had lavished on the palace

      of the Lord and his own palaces were carried away to Egypt. All

      the precious metals which David had accumulated, all the

      acquisitions of Solomon’s fleets, all the royal offerings of the queen

      of Sheba and of tributary kings — gone to the sons of the stranger,

      to the swart children of Ham. He had amassed prodigious wealth,

      but it was for aliens and enemies. Not only the shields and drinking

      vessels, but the candlesticks, bowls, and the very laminae which

      had glorified the sanctuary, all fell to the invader. What a case of Sic

                        vos non vobis!  (thus do ye but not for yourselves) - What would

                        Solomon have said could he have foreseen Rehoboam’s “Brummagem”

                        shields, and the punctilious ceremony with which they were paraded

                        and preserved? And this was the end of multiplying silver and gold to

                        himself. He had put it all into a bag with holes (Haggai 1:6).


ü      In the demoralization of his people. For the idolatries of Judah, the

                        images, the groves, the Sodomites (ch.14:23-24), were but the

                        continuation and development of the idolatries which Solomon

                        had inaugurated. His son did but reap the crop which himself had sown.

                        Nay, so exact is the lex talionis (the law of retribution) that we presently

                        find a queen of Judah erecting a “horror” for the most shameful of rites

                        (see note on ch.15:13).  And this was the result of building altars for his

                        queens and princesses “on the hill that is before Jerusalem,” that

                        within a few years the Lord’s people, whose was the law and the temple,

                        built them high places, etc., “on every high hill and under every green

                        tree (ch. 14:23).


ü      In the captivity of the nation. For the dispersion and enslavement of the

                        Jewish people, though only consummated some four centuries later, and

                        though it was the retribution of a long series of sins, was nevertheless,

                        in a sense, the result of Solomon’s sin. That is to say, his sin was (as ch.

                        (9:6-7 show) the first beginning of that ever deepening apostasy from

                        the Lord, of which the captivity was, from the first, denounced as the

                        punishment. Other princes no doubt followed in his steps and filled up the

                        measure of iniquity, but the Grand Monarque of their race had first

                        showed them the way. And so the people who had held sway even to the

                        Euphrates were carried beyond the Euphrates, and those who had seen

                        subject kings in their land became subjects in a foreign land (cf.

                                                Jeremiah 5:19). How full of instruction and warning is it that the

                        captivity which Solomon foretold (1 Kings 8:46) he should have done

                        so much to precipitate. He predicted, i.e., both his own and his nation’s



ü      But the multiplication of horses, that too, like the other sins, seems to

                        have brought its own peculiar Nemesis. For whence, let us ask, came the

                        army that pillaged Jerusalem, and carried off the treasures of the temple? It

                        came in the footprints of the horses. First, the invasion of Solomon, and

                        then the invasion of Shishak, “with twelve hundred chariots and threescore

                        thousand horsemen (II Chronicles 12:8). And what came of the horses

                        supplied to the Tyrians and Hittites? See chps. 20:1 (“horses and chariots;”

                        v. 25;  22:31; II Kings 6:15; 7:6)  It is extremely probable that the cavalry

                        he supplied to foreign kings became an instrument in their hands to scourge

                        his own people. Nor is it wholly unworthy of notice that the murderer Zimri

                        was “captain of half the chariots (ch.16:9). Assuredly, that unhallowed

                        trade did not go unpunished.  Such, then, is the principal moral of this

                        history: “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god”

                        (Psalm 16:4). And among the additional lessons which this subject teaches

                        are these:


Ø      That where much is given, much will be required – (Luke 12:48)

Ø      That judgment begins at the house of God – (I Peter 4:17)

Ø      “He that knew his lord’s will and did it not shall be beaten with

      many stripes;” – (Luke 12:47)

Ø      “Every transgression and disobedience shall receive its just

      recompense of reward;” – (Hebrews 2:2)

Ø       “If God spared not the natural branches, take heed that He

      lest He also spare not thee.” – (Romans 11:21)




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