Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Sixty-Three Years.
From The Death Of David To The Death Of Ahab.
How Solomon, When He Had Received The Kingdom Took Off His Enemies.
1. WE have already treated of David, and his virtue, and of the benefits he was the author of to his countrymen; of his wars also and battles, which he managed with success, and then died an old man, in the foregoing book. And when Solomon his son, who was but a youth in age, had taken the kingdom, and whom David had declared, while he was alive, the lord of that people, according to God's will; when he sat upon the throne, the whole body of the people made joyful acclamations to him, as is usual at the beginning of a reign; and wished that all his affairs might come to a blessed conclusion; and that he might arrive at a great age, and at the most happy state of affairs possible.
2. But Adonijah, who, while his father was living, attempted to gain possession of the government, came to the king's mother Bathsheba, and saluted her with great civility; and when she asked him, whether he came to her as desiring her assistance in any thing or not, and bade him tell her if that were the case, for that she would cheerfully afford it him; he began to say, that she knew herself that the kingdom was his,both on account of his elder age, and of the disposition of the multitude, and that yet it was transferred to Solomon her son, according to the will of God.
He also said that he was contented to be a servant under him, and was pleased with the present settlement; but he desired her to be a means of obtaining a favor from his brother to him, and to persuade him to bestow on him in marriage Abishag, who had indeed slept by his father, but, because his father was too old, he did not lie with her, and she was still a virgin. So Bathsheba promised him to afford him her assistance very earnestly, and to bring this marriage about, because the king would be willing to gratify him in such a thing, and because she would press it to him very earnestly. Accordingly he went away in hopes of succeeding in this match. So Solomon's mother went presently to her son, to speak to him about what she had promised, upon Adonijah's supplication to her. And when her son came forward to meet her, and embraced her, and when he had brought her into the house where his royal throne was set, he sat thereon, and bid them set another throne on the right hand for his mother. When Bathsheba was set down, she said,
"O my son, grant me one request that I desire of thee, and do not any thing to me that is disagreeable or ungrateful, which thou wilt do if thou deniest me."
And when Solomon bid her to lay her commands upon him, because it was agreeable to his duty to grant her every thing she should ask,and complained that she did not at first begin her discourse with a firm expectation of obtaining what she desired, but had some suspicion of a denial, she entreated him to grant that his brother Adonijah might marry Abishag.
3. But the king was greatly offended at these words, and sent away his mother, and said that Adonijah aimed at great things; and that he wondered that she did not desire him to yield up the kingdom to him, as to his elder brother, since she desired that he might marry Abishag; and that he had potent friends, Joab the captain of the host, and Abiathar the priest. So he called for Benaiah, the captain of the guards, and ordered him to slay his brother Adonijah. He also called for Abiathar the priest, and said to him,
"I will not put thee to death because of those other hardships which thou hast endured with my father, and because of the ark which thou hast borne along with him; but I inflict this following punishment upon thee, because thou wast among Adonijah's followers, and wast of his party. Do not thou continue here, nor come any more into my sight, but go to thine own town, and live on thy own fields, and there abide all thy life; for thou hast offended so greatly, that it is not just that thou shouldst retain thy dignity any longer."
For the forementioned cause, therefore, it was that the house of Ithamar was deprived of the sacerdotal dignity, as God had foretold to Eli, the grandfather of Abiathar. So it was transferred to the family of Phineas, to Zadok. Now those that were of the family of Phineas, but lived privately during the time that the high priesthood was transferred to the house of Ithamar, (of which family Eli was the first that received it,)were these that follow: Bukki, the son of Abishua the high priest; his son was Joatham; Joatham's son was Meraioth; Meraioth's son was Arophseus; Aropheus's son was Ahitub; and Ahitub's son was Zadok, who was first made high priest in the reign of David.
4. Now when Joab the captain of the host heard of the slaughter of Adonijah, he was greatly afraid, for he was a greater friend to him than to Solomon; and suspecting, not without reason, that he was in danger, on account of his favor to Adonijah, he fled to the altar, and supposed he might procure safety thereby to himself, because of the king's piety towards God. But when some told the king what Joab's supposal was, he sent Benaiah, and commanded him to raise him up from the altar, and bring him to the judgment-seat, in order to make his defense. However, Joab said he would not leave the altar, but would die there rather than in another place. And when Benaiah had reported his answer to the king, Solomon commanded him to cut off his head there (1) and let him take that as a punishment for those two captains of the host whom he had wickedly slain, and to bury his body, that his sins might never leave his family, but that himself and his father, by Joab's death, might be guiltless. And when Benaiah had done what he was commanded to do, he was himself appointed to be captain of the whole army. The king also made Zadok to be alone the high priest, in the room of Abiathar, whom he had removed.
5. But as to Shimei, Solomon commanded that he should build him a house, and stay at Jerusalem, and attend upon him, and should not have authority to go over the brook Cedron; and that if he disobeyed that command, death should be his punishment. He also threatened him so terribly, that he compelled him to take all oath that he would obey. Accordingly Shimei said that he had reason to thank Solomon for giving him such an injunction; and added an oath, that he would do as he bade him; and leaving his own country, he made his abode in Jerusalem. But three years afterwards, when he heard that two of his servants were run away from him, and were in Gath, he went for his servants in haste; and when he was come back with them, the king perceived it, and was much displeased that he had contemned his commands, and, what was more, had no regard to the oaths he had sworn to God; so he called him, and said to him,
"Didst not thou swear never to leave me, nor to go out of this city to another? Thou shalt not therefore escape punishment for thy perjury, but I will punish thee, thou wicked wretch, both for this crime, and for those wherewith thou didst abuse my father when he was in his flight, that thou mayst know that wicked men gain nothing at last, although they be not punished immediately upon their unjust practices; but that in all the time wherein they think themselves secure, because they have yet suffered nothing, their punishment increases, and is heavier upon them, and that to a greater degree than if they had been punished immediately upon the commission of their crimes."
(1) This execution upon Joab, as a murderer, by slaying him, even when he had taken sanctuary at God's altar, is perfectly agreeable to the law of Moses, which enjoins, that
"if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar that he die," (Exodus 21:14).
So Benaiah, on the king's command, slew Shimei.