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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Kings 11

Solomon’s wives and concubines, His idolatry. (1-8) God’s anger. (9-13) Solomon’s adversaries. (14-25) Jeroboam’s promotion. (26-40) The death of Solomon. (41-43)

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Solomon’s wives and concubines, His idolatry

1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites:

2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.

3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

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.

5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

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, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

God’s anger

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,

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.

12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: 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 to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.

Solomon’s adversaries

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;

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, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, 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 favour 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.

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, 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.

Jeroboam’s promotion

26 And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand 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.

28 And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.

29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite 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:

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:

32 (But he shall have one tribe 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 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:

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.

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.

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

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 death of Solomon

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?

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

43 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Strange women, who had been brought up in the service of idols, and were not sincerely converted. H. — Riches engaged Solomon in the love of pleasure, and this brought on his ruin. C. — He began with the spirit, but ended in the flesh. Gal. iii. 3. Eccles. xlvii. 21. He was aware of the dangerous conversation of women. Eccle. xix. 2. Yet he has left us in his own person an example of that dreadful truth, that it is difficult to love with discretion. H. — Amare et sapere vix cuiquam conceditur. Nothing could be more beautiful than the commencement of his reign, nor more terrible than the latter part of it. Thou hast stained thy glory, &c. Eccli. xlvii. 22. Hence we may apply to him, How are thou fallen from heaven? Isai. xiv. 12. C. — Pharao. This marriage seems to be blamed, as the source of Solomon’s misfortunes; though it is probable, that she had pretended to embrace his religion. M. Salien. — He ought to have repudiated her as soon as she relapsed. T.

Ver. 2. Gods. See Ex. xxxiv. 16. Deut. vii. 4. The law only forbids expressly the marrying of the women of Chanaan. But is was easy to discern, that the spirit of the law equally prohibited connexions with others who were addicted to idol-worship. See 1 Esd. x. 3. Such alliances are always dangerous, and generally prove fatal; (C.) unless there be good reason to believe that the parties are sincerely converted: in which case the prohibition ceases. H. — Love. Thus, nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata; and, stolen waters are sweeter, says impure love; but her guests are in the depths of hell. Prov. ix. 17. 18.

Ver. 3. Concubines, or secondary wives. H. — Those who have any sense of modesty, can hardly read this without blushing. Salien. — Solomon was guilty not only of intemperance, but also of a transgression of the precept. M. Deut. xvii. 17. — He shall not have many wives: though as that command is indefinite, and David had eighteen, without blame, (2 K. iii. 3.) it is difficult to say how many a person might have, at that time, without exceeding the bounds of moderation. H. — But a thousand wives for one man, is certainly too great a number. When Solomon wrote the Canticles, he had only sixty queens and eighty concubines. Cant. vi. 8. The Rabbins allow the king eighteen wives. But it is probable that most of the kings indulged themselves in a greater latitude. Darius, of Persia, took along with him to the wars 350 concubines, when he was overcome by Alexander. Athen. xiii. 1. Priam had also many wives, besides Hecuba, the queen. The inferior wives looked upon those who had this title with a degree of respect, bordering on adoration. C.

Ver. 4. Old; about fifty. Salien. C. — This is an aggravation of his guilt. H. — Solomon spent the first thirty years of his reign in virtue: but towards the termination of it, he gave into idolatry, and into such excesses, that he deserves to be ranked with Henry VIII. who began well, but ended with dishonour. H. — Heart, and mind also, v. 9. He sacrificed to idols, not only externally, but gave them internal worship; (Salien) so much was his understanding darkened, unless (H.) he acted against his better knowledge. Eccles. ii. 9. T. — Father who did not continue long in sin. D. — “The wisdom, which had been given to him, entirely abandoned his heart, which the discipline even of the smallest tribulation had not guarded.” S. Greg. Pastoral. p. 3. — “He had commenced his reign with an ardent desire of wisdom, and when he had obtained it by spiritual love, he lost it by carnal affections.” S. Aug. Doct. iii. 21. — “Prosperity, which is a severe trial for the wise, was more disadvantageous to him than wisdom herself had been profitable.” De Civ. God xvii. 20. — The Fathers do not attempt to palliate the guilt of Solomon; and those aggravate his crime, who endeavour to excuse him by saying, that his mind was still convinced that there could be but one God, and that his adoration of idols was merely external, and out of complaisance to his wives. See Santius, &c. C.

Ver. 5. Astarthe. Heb. Hashtoreth, “ewes,” is in the plural form, as if to denote many idols. But the moon, or the queen of heaven, (Jer. vii. 18.) is particularly designated. Judg. ii. 12. H. — Some explain it of Venus, (Sanctius) or Juno. T. — Moloch. Heb. Molciom, (their king) “the abomination;” (H.) supposed to be the sun, (Sanctius) or saturn. T. See 4 K. xxiii. 10.

Ver. 7. Chamos. Bacchus or Priapus, called Komos, by the Greeks, as he presided over “feasting.” His worship was most shameful, and therefore performed in the night. The temples erected by Solomon, were not entirely demolished till the reign of Josias. T. — Hill. Heb. “Then Solomon erected a high place (temple, altar, or grove) to Chamos, the abomination of Moad, on the, &c. hill;” it is supposed of olives, (H.) to the east of Jerusalem, which was hence called, the mount of offence. 4 K. xxiii. 13. C. — Yet no place was consecrated to idols within the city. M. — The idols of Egypt are not specified, though the daughter of Pharao would, probably, interest herself in their favour. The Jews were more prone to those of Chanaan. We find, however, that they were addicted to the worship of Adonis, who was highly revered in Egypt; (Ezec. viii. 14. C.) and the golden calves were an imitation of Apis. H. — Six temples were probably built, as wives of so many different nations are specified, v. 1. Abul. Salien.

Ver. 9. Twice, or repeatedly. See C. ix. 2. H. — He had appeared to him at Gabaon, and after the consecration of the temple, (M.) besides sending a prophet to him while he was building. C. vi. 12. Abul. — God was not content with giving him the general commandments: he had condescended to caution him in a most particular and earnest manner: (H.) so that his transgression is more horrible and ungrateful. C. — No doubt the priests and prophets had often besought him to alter his conduct; but the sinner is deaf, till God speak to his heart. Salien, A. 3054.

Ver. 11. This. Lit. and Heb. “Because thou hast this with thee.” H. — Since this is thy conduct, and fixed determination, to abandon my service, I will also reject thee. The Lord spoke to him in a third vision, (C.) or by the mouth of Ahias, (Abul.) who was likewise appointed to inform Jeroboam of his election to a part of the kingdom. Salien, A. 3059.

Ver. 12. Sake. As David placed this son upon the throne, the disgrace would seem to revert on him. M. — Here we behold the reward of piety, and how desirable a thing it is to have saints for our parents. H.

Ver. 13. One tribe. Besides that of Juda, his own native tribe. Ch. — That of Benjamin had been so reduced, that it scarcely deserved the name of a tribe. It was also invariably connected with the adjoining tribe of Juda; as many of the other tribes, after the captivities of Assyria and Babylon, went by the common title of Jews. T. — The Levites, and many of the Israelites, came to inhabit in the land of Juda, for the sake of the true religion. C. xii. 17. 2 Par. xi. 13. 16. Jeroboam banished the tribe of Levi from his dominions, that he might more easily introduce a change of religion among his subjects. The two kingdoms were thus almost equal in strength. C. — Chosen for the abode of holiness, and the seat of government. Salien. — One tribe…and Jerusalem; which latter may denote the tribe of Benjamin. W.

Ver. 14. Adversary. Heb. Satan. Nothing of this kind could molest him, while he continued faithful. C. v. 4. But now he sees the arm of God stretched out, pressing him to repent. — Adad. Sept. Ader. Josephus says that this prince solicited Pharao to let him return into his own country, after the death of Joab: but was prevailed upon to desist from the attempt, till the affairs of Solomon began to decline. He then endeavoured to get possession of the country; but, being repelled by the strong garrisons of the Hebrews, he went and joined Razar, (Heb. Razon) who had revolted against Aderezer; and made inroads into the dominions of Solomon, after he had conquered a part of Syria. Ant. viii. 7. Others think that Solomon consented, at the entreaty of Pharao, that Adad should reign over Idumea, on his paying tribute; and that the latter attempted to throw off the yoke. Salien. — But these particulars are uncertain, and Idumea was subject to the kings of Juda till the days of Joram. 2 Par. xxi. 8. C.

Ver. 15. In Edom, in the 15th year of his reign. Salien. — Abisai was the general in this expedition. 2 K. viii. and 1 Par. xviii. 12.

Ver. 17. Boy. About five (Salien) or 12 years of age. Pineda.

Ver. 18. Land, to maintain him (Josephus) out of the royal domains, (C.) of which the kings were possessed. Didor. i. p. 46. — He appointed him governor of some part of the country. Vatable.

Ver. 19. Full. Sept. “elder sister of his wife Thekemina.” H.

Ver. 23. Razon. He must have been now about 94 years old; unless this was the son of Aderezer’s general. Salien. M.

Ver. 24. Robbers, or (Heb. and Sept.) “a band” with whom he made depredations. H. — Damascus, with David’s consent, on their admitting a garrison, (2 K. viii. 6,) and consenting to pay tribute; (M.) or Razon might make himself master of this place, only after the apostacy of Solomon. His successors became very formidable to the Jews, particularly Razin, (4 K. xv. and xvi.) who was slain by Theglathphalassar. Ib. v. 9. C.

Ver. 25. Solomon, after he once began. H. — Adad. Heb. “and with the evil of Adad, and he detested Israel.” M. — Razon and Adad conspired to attack Solomon. H. — Adad may be the common name of the kings of Damascus. Some copies of the Sept. do not speak of Razon, but continue the history of Adad, v. 14. They also read Edom here instead of Aram, or Syria, which would remove the confusion. C. — Adad, Razon, and Jeroboam always oppugn Solomon after his fall; and signify the flesh, the world, and the devil. W.

Ver. 26. King, attempting to draw the people into rebellion, as he perceived that they were discontent with the buildings at Mello. He had a command over them; and though he was, for the present, obliged to save himself by flight, he had sown the seeds of rebellion by his discourses, in such a manner, that the imprudent answer of Roboam (C.) easily brought them to maturity. H.

Ver. 28. Joseph, Ephraim and Manasses. M. — He was of the former tribe. Salien. — At first Solomon employed none of the Israelites to work. C. ix. 22. But he afterwards oppressed them grievously. The king’s right was to make his subjects cultivate his lands, &c. 1 K. vii. 11. They did not pay money, (Mat. xvii. 24,) but wrought for the king. Heb. “he made him ruler over all the charge,” (or levy.) H. — The Vulg. often uses the word tribute (C.) for sebel. Josephus believes that Jeroboam had the command over the forces of the house of Joseph: but he had rather the superintendency over the workmen. H.

Ver. 29. Garment. Salma occurs 16 times in this sense, and simlee 27. The latter, we may presume, is the true reading, as it is in the Sam. Pentateuch invariably; Ex. xxii. 26, 27, both words are printed in the Heb. Bible. But it is not probable that Moses should have written them so; no more than a Latin author would use both vestinentum and vestimentum. Shamal, in Arabic, signifies “he clothed himself all over.” Kennicott. — Way leading to Ephraim, (M.) his department. C. — Field. Sept. “he drew him aside out of the road: and Ahias had on a new cloak, and both were in the field.” H. — Jeroboam would not probably go unattended; (M.) and it seems this transaction soon transpired, and came to the ears of Solomon. H.

Ver. 30. Parts. He speaks by his actions, (M.) thus foretelling what should happen, as was customary with the prophets. Osee i. 2. Jer. xxvii. 2. Ezec. xii. 7. Acts xxi. 11. C. — This tended to make a deeper impression on the mind, (H.) and convince all, that what was spoken, was not in jest. W.

Ver. 34. Make, or permit him to reign. M.

Ver. 36. A lamp. Posterity, (2 K. xxi. 17.) power, and glory. 4 K. viii. 19.

Ver. 37. Desireth. It seems he was already disposed to revolt. C.

Ver. 38. Faithful house, which shall not be destroyed, nor lose the kingdom, for a long time. Jeroboam never complied with the condition. C.

Ver. 39. For this infidelity of Solomon, (H). afflict, by raising up a rival. M. — For ever. Notwithstanding the wickedness of many of its princes, this family was to subsist, in a distinguished rank, till the coming of the Messias; that the completion of the promises might be more observable. C. — After 250 years, the throne of Israel was subverted. M.

Ver. 40. Therefore, being apprized of what had passed, as well as to prevent the farther attempts of Jeroboam. H. — Sesac. He is the first, whose proper name is given in Scripture. Whether he was of the same family, as the Pharao, whose daughter Solomon had married, cannot be ascertained. Marsham makes Sesac the same with the renowned Sesostris, the Sethosis of Manetho. But Usher thinks that Sesostris reigned immediately after the Israelites left Egypt; while Pezron, &c. suppose that Amenoplis, who was drowned, was even his grandson. C.

Ver. 41. Words, or transactions. H. — Book. This book is lost, with divers others mentioned in holy writ. Ch. — Nathan, Ahias, and Addo, composed these journals. 2 Par. ix. 29. H. — Similar works were kept at the courts of Persia and of Babylon. Est. vi. 1. 1 Esd. vi. 2. Plutarch quotes the journal of Alexander; and Tacitus (An. iii.) informs us, that the smallest occurrences were specified in journals, at Rome, while things of greater importance were recorded in the annals. The books of days, are cited in the Paral. so that we cannot suppose that these journals are the same with that work. C. — God was pleased that those writings should not come down to us; so that we can only speak from conjecture of the repentance of Solomon. Salien, A. 3058.

Ver. 42. Forty. Josephus says eighty; and some suppose, that the Scripture only specifies the years during which Solomon reigned virtuously. Pezron is the same opinion as Josephus. H. — Others contend that it is a manifest mistake. Immoderate pleasures hastened his old age and death, when he was about fifty-eight years old. All in him was great, whether we consider the virtues of his early days, or the vices of his old age. He falls from heaven into the abyss. His repentance is a problem. C.

Ver. 43. Solomon slept, &c. That is, died. He was then about fifty-eight years of age, having reigned forty years. Ch. — S. Chrysostom, at different times, seems to have entertained opposite opinions on this head, (H.) which has been a matter of controversy among the Fathers, as it is at present with us. We ought to adore and imitate, with trembling, the silence of Scripture. C. — Sept. seem favourable to Solomon: (Prov. xxiv. 32.) “At last I did penance, and looked forward, to embrace discipline.” H. — But the Heb. Chal. and Vulg. have nothing similar. C. — Some think that the Book of Proverbs, as well as that of Ecclesiastes, was composed by him after his repentance; and that he expresses his sentiments of affliction and self-condemnation, (Prov. xxx. 2.) and his opinion of all earthly gratifications. Eccles. i. 2. &c. H. — Yet this dreadful uncertainty may serve to keep us all in humble fear, and teach us to work out our salvation with trembling. C. — If Solomon really repented, (H.) he might not have time or power to remove all the vestiges, and the very foundations of the idolatrous temples, which Ezechias also neglected in ruins, as no longer dangerous, and as so many monuments of the folly of Solomon. But Josias caused them to be entirely removed. 4 K. xxii. 13. Salien, A. 3059. The daughter of Pharao would probably imitate her beloved husband. Pineda. — Sadoc seems to have departed this life about the same time with Solomon; as his son Achimaas, who had married Basemath, the king’s daughter, succeeded him in the pontificate, at the commencement of Roboam’s reign. Chron. Min. Heb. Salien.