King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Kings 3

Solomon’s marriage. (1-4) His vision, His prayer for wisdom. (5-15) The judgment of Solomon. (16-28)

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Solomon’s marriage

1 And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.

2 Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.

3 And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.

4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.

His vision, His prayer for wisdom

5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

10 And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.

11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.

14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.

15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

The judgment of Solomon

16 Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.

17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.

18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.

19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it.

20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.

21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.

22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.

23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.

24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.

25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.

27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Solomon. By the death of his enemies, and by his affinity with the king of Egypt, and his friendship with Hiram, king Tyre, who were the most potent princes in the neighbourhood. Eupolemus (ap. Euseb. præp.) has a letter of Solomon to Pharao Vaphres, in which the latter is said to have been the friend of David; (Salien) and Clement (Strom. i.) produces the testimony of Polyhistor, saying, that Vaphres sent 80,000 Egyptian workmen to assist Solomon to build the temple. — Daughter. Who probably, embraced the true religion; so that her praises are supposed to be recorded in the 44th Psalm, and in the canticles; though it seems she afterwards relapsed, and became the chief instrument in the perversion of the king. C. xi. 1. — David. She dwelt in the apartments of Bethsabee, (Cant. iii. 4. and viii. 2,) till a magnificent palace could be built for her reception. C. vii. 8. To marry idolatrous women was strictly forbidden. Deut. vii. 3. 1 Esdras x. 2. 2 Esdras xiii. 26.

Ver. 2. But yet. It is not clear to what this refers. Heb. “for the rest, (C.) or only;” (as also v. 3,) which may signify that the people, and their king, were blamable; or else, that they zealously offered sacrifices to God, even before the temple was erected. H. — Those who afterwards left that sacred place, to imitate the conduct of idolaters, or of the ancient patriarchs, which was no longer tolerated, are justly condemned. C. — High places. That is, altars where they worshipped the Lord, indeed, but not according to the ordinance of the law; which allowed of no other places for sacrifice but the temple of God. Among these high places, that of Gabaon was the chief, because there was the tabernacle of the testimony wich had been removed from Silo to Nobe, and from Nobe to Gabaon. Ch. — Hither David would have gone, as Solomon did, v. 4. C. — Hence this was not, at least, once of those high places, where it was unlawful to offer sacrifice; as the tabernacle was there, and the altar of holocausts, which Moses had erected. The obligation of sacrificing in no place, except in that which the Lord had appointed, regarded the times while the ark was in the desert, (H.) and when it was placed in the temple. While it continued in an unsettled state, people enjoyed more liberty in this respect; (C.) particularly when there was a prophet present, to sanction what they did. H.

Ver. 3. Only, &c. Which David had not done, though it was lawful. Pineda. — Yet we read that he offered victims on Sion, &c. 2 K. vi. 18. H.

Ver. 4. Victims. These he accompanied with most fervent prayer. Wisd. vii. 7. 2 Par. i. 9.

Ver. 5. In a prophetic dream, or ecstasy. His mind had been so filled with the desire of wisdom, that the same thoughts recurred to him while he slept; and, as he had entertained them voluntarily before, he acquired fresh merit even during that time; as a man, who indulges sensual affections, becomes responsible for the accidents of the night. S. Tho. 1. 2. q. 113. a. 2. and 2. 2. 9. 154. a. 5. S. Aug. de Gen. ad lit. xii. 15. C.

Ver. 7. In. So as to judge with discretion, and to lead my people. C.

Ver. 9. Understanding. Lit. “docile.” H. — Heb. “willing to hear,” and to obey God. M.

Ver. 12. After thee. Solomon has given us some idea of his wisdom in the works which he has left. They were dictated by the Holy Spirit, who adorned his soul with so many graces. C. iv. 29. 30. H. — His knowledge of nature, and of the art of governing, excelled that of any of the kings of Israel; (Lyran, &c. 2 Paral. ix.) though Moses and the apostles had a more comprehensive knowledge of the mysteries of God. C. — Yet, even granting that no mere man might come up to him, Jesus Christ, in whom the treasures of wisdom were contained, was far superior. H. — General propositions are often to be understood with a limitation. M.

Ver. 13. Heretofore: 2 Paral. (i. 12,) adds, nor after thee. Eccle. ii. 7. This is also limited by some to the kings of that country. But the riches of Solomon were not exceeded by those of the greatest monarchs. Diss. “on the riches which David left.” C.

Ver. 14. Days. But this he forfeited. M.

Ver. 15. Dream. Sent by God, as Gen. xli. 1. C.

Ver. 16. Harlots. Rather than simply, “innkeepers.” Chal. M. — The latter signification of Zona might, however, seem more natural; as harlots seldom have children; or, at least, any affection for them. Neither would such people have dared to appear before the king. Deut. xxiii. 17.

Ver. 19. Him. This she suspected to be the case. They did not then place infants in the cradle, but let them sleep in their bosoms. C.

Ver. 25. Other. This sentence manifested the wisdom of Solomon, who knew that the real mother would feel the emotions of parental tenderness. By similar experiments, the truth has sometimes been discovered. Claudius obliged a mother to own her son, by ordering her to take him for a husband. Seut. xv. — The king of Trace told three who pretended to be the sons of the deceased king of the Cimmerians, to shoot an arrow at the corpse; which the real son would not do. C. Diod. Sic. — A native of Mexico, reclaiming a horse which a Spaniard pretended was his, as the judge was under some doubts, the American threw his cloak over the horse’s head, and asked which eye was blind? The Spaniard replied, the right; and thus was detected. Palafox.