1 Kings

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The two Books of Kings were originally, like 1 Sam; 2 Sam – a single historical work. In conjunction with the Books of Samuel, they extend the consecutive history of Israel from the birth of Samuel to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. This combined work is designed as a religious history; hence in Kings the temple, which is the chosen site for the worship of Yahweh, occupies the center of attention.
The Books of Kings show clearly the theological bent of a Deuteronomic editor. In them, as already in Judges, material from various sources, such as the “book of the acts of Solomon” ( 1 Kings 11:41) and the “book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel” ( 1 Kings 14:19), is forged into structural unity by an editor whose principal interest is in the fidelity to Yahweh of rulers and people. The reigns of individual kings are adapted to an editorial framework consisting of a presentation and an obituary notice for each, in stereotyped formulas. In between, the achievements of the king are reported-above all, his fidelity or lack of fidelity to Yahweh. The faithful prosper; the unfaithful pay for their defections. Since this is basically a narrative of sin and retribution, it would not be inappropriate to entitle the Books of Kings “The Rise and Fall of the Israelite Monarchy.”
Without minimizing the complexity of the process by which this material was transmitted for many centuries, one may speak of two editions of the Books: the first at some time between 621 B.C. and 597 B.C., and the second, final edition during the Exile; probably shortly after Jehoiachin was released from his Babylonian prison (561 B.C.).
1 Kings carries the history of Israel from the last days and death of David to the accession in Samaria of Ahaziah, son of Ahab, near the end of the reign of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Judgment is passed on Ahaziah’s reign but the details are given only later, in 2 Kings. We should note the two large cycles of traditions which grew up around the great prophetic figures of Elijah and Elisha, the former in 1 Kings and the latter chiefly in 2 Kings. These cycles, which interrupt the sequence of regnal chronicles, were very probably preserved and transmitted by the prophetic communities to which there are references in the same traditions. The Elijah cycle is the more important since it dramatically underscores Israel’s critical struggle with the religion of Canaan.
The principal divisions of the Books of Kings are:
1. The Reign of Solomon ( 1 Kings 1:1- 11:43)
2. Judah and Israel to the Time of Ahab ( 1 Kings 12:1- 16:34)
3.  Stories of the Prophets ( 1 Kings 17:1- 22:54)
4.  The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah ( 2 Kings 1:1- 17:41)
5. The Kingdom of Judah after 721 B.C. ( 2 Kings 18:1- 25:30)

1 Kings

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Chapter 1


When King David was old and advanced in years, though they spread covers over him he could not keep warm.


His servants therefore said to him, “Let a young virgin be sought to attend you, lord king, and to nurse you. If she sleeps with your royal majesty, you will be kept warm.”


So they sought for a beautiful girl throughout the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunamite, whom they brought to the king.


The maiden, who was very beautiful, nursed the king and cared for him, but the king did not have relations with her.


Adonijah, son of Haggith, began to display his ambition to be king. He acquired chariots, drivers, and fifty henchmen.


Yet his father never rebuked him or asked why he was doing this. Adonijah was also very handsome, and next in age to Absalom by the same mother.


He conferred with Joab, son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest, and they supported him.


However, Zadok the priest, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, and Shimei and his companions, the pick of David’s army, did not side with Adonijah.


When he slaughtered sheep, oxen, and fatlings at the stone Zoheleth, near En-rogel, 1 Adonijah invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah.


But he did not invite the prophet Nathan, or Benaiah, or the pick of the army, or his brother Solomon.


Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother: “Have you not heard that Adonijah, son of Haggith, has become king without the knowledge of our lord David?


Come now, let me advise you so that you may save your life and that of your son Solomon.


Go, visit King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, lord king, swear to your handmaid: Your son Solomon shall be king after me and shall sit upon my throne? Why, then, has Adonijah become king?’


And while you are still there speaking to the king, I will come in after you and confirm what you have said.”


So Bathsheba visited the king in his room, while Abishag the Shunamite was attending him because of his advanced age.


Bathsheba bowed in homage to the king, who said to her, “What do you wish?”


She answered him: “My lord, you swore to me your handmaid by the LORD, your God, that my son Solomon should reign after you and sit upon your throne.


But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord king, do not know it.


He has slaughtered oxen, fatlings, and sheep in great numbers; he has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest, and Joab, the general of the army, but not your servant Solomon.


2 Now, my lord king, all Israel is waiting for you to make known to them who is to sit on the throne after your royal majesty.


If this is not done, when my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, I and my son Solomon will be considered criminals.”


While she was still speaking to the king, the prophet Nathan came in.


When he had been announced, the prophet entered the king’s presence and, bowing to the floor, did him homage.


Then Nathan said: “Have you decided, my lord king, that Adonijah is to reign after you and sit on your throne?


He went down today and slaughtered oxen, fatlings, and sheep in great numbers; he invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest, and they are eating and drinking in his company and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’


But me, your servant, he did not invite; nor Zadok the priest, nor Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon.


Was this done by my royal master’s order without my being told who was to succeed to your majesty’s kingly throne?”


King David answered, “Call Bathsheba here.” When she re-entered the king’s presence and stood before him,


the king swore, “As the LORD lives, who has delivered me from all distress,


this very day I will fulfill the oath I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, that your son Solomon should reign after me and should sit upon my throne in my place.”


Bowing to the floor in homage to the king, Bathsheba said, “May my lord, King David, live forever!”


Then King David summoned Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, son of Jehoiada. When they had entered the king’s presence,


he said to them: “Take with you the royal attendants. Mount my son Solomon upon my own mule and escort him down to Gihon.


There Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet are to anoint him king of Israel, and you shall blow the horn and cry, ‘Long live King Solomon!’


When you come back in his train, he is to go in and sit upon my throne and reign in my place. I designate him ruler of Israel and of Judah.”


In answer to the king, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, said: “So be it! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, so decree!


As the LORD has been with your royal majesty, so may he be with Solomon, and exalt his throne even more than that of my lord, King David!”


3 So 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.


Then Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the horn and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!”


Then all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing so much as to split open the earth with their shouting.


Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it, just as they ended their banquet. When Joab heard the sound of the horn, he asked, “What does this uproar in the city mean?”


As he was speaking, Jonathan, son of Abiathar the priest, arrived. “Come,” said Adonijah, “you are a man of worth and must bring good news.”


“On the contrary!” Jonathan answered him. “Our lord, King David, has made Solomon king.


The 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.


Zadok 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 heard.


Besides, Solomon took his seat on the royal throne,


and the king’s servants went in and paid their respects to our lord, King David, saying, ‘May God make Solomon more famous than you and exalt his throne more than your own!’ And the king in his bed worshiped God,


and this is what he said: ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has this day seated one of my sons upon my throne, so that I see it with my own eyes.'”


All the guests of Adonijah left in terror, each going his own way.


4 Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, also left; he went and seized the horns of the altar.


It was reported to Solomon that Adonijah, in his fear of King Solomon, had seized the horns of the altar and said, “Let King Solomon first swear that he will not kill me, his servant, with the sword.”


Solomon answered, “If he proves himself worthy, not a hair shall fall from his head. But if he is found guilty of crime, he shall die.”


King Solomon sent to have him brought down from the altar, and he came and paid homage to the king. Solomon then said to him, “Go to your home.”


1 [9] En-rogel: the modern Job’s Well southeast of Jerusalem. It marked the ancient boundary between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah ( Joshua 15:7; 18:16). Here David’s men sought information about Absalom’s revolt ( 2 Sam 17:17).

2 [20] At this time, neither law nor the right of primogeniture, but the will of the ruling monarch, determined succession to the throne.

3 [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 Sam 8:18; 15:18; 20:23.

4 [50] Horns of the altar: the protuberances on each of the four corners of the altar were surrounded with a special degree of holiness ( Exodus 27:2; 29:12), and constituted a place of asylum for transgressors of the law ( Exodus 21:13-14; 1 Kings 2:28).

1 Kings

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