Tuesday, 8 February 2011

1 Kings

Brief summary:
·         The old David is given Abishag for companionship.
·         Adonijah, the son of David, proclaims himself king.
·         Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan tell David about Adonijah, and David Solomon is anointed king instead.
·         Solomon spares Adonijah.
·         David advises Solomon to obey the Lord alone, and dies.
·         Solomon is given the gift of wisdom
·         The judgment of Solomon with the disputed child.
·         Political stability, wealth and peace under Solomon.
·         Solomon builds the temple with the help of Hiram king of Tyre.
·         Solomon builds an extravagant house for himself.
·         The temple is dedicated. The cloud of the Lord’s presence fills the temple.
·         Queen of Sheba visits Solomon.
·         Solomon worships false gods, has foreign wives and concubines, faces opposition both external and internal. God says he will punish Solomon’s son.
·         Rehoboam’s belligerence results in the splitting of the united kingdom into a northern kingdom (10 tribes) and a southern kingdom (Judah and later Benjamin.)

Notes on kings



·         Reigns 930-913
·         Mostly bad
·         War with Israel
·         Egypt takes Judah’s wealth, including Solomon’s golden shields.


·         Reigns 930-909
·         Bad
·         Sets up golden calf worship at Dan and Bethel.
·         A prophet prophesies the destruction of the altar at Bethel by Josiah. This prophet is persuaded to eat by another prophet (against the Lord’s commands), is killed by a lion, and buried at Bethel. The other prophet asks to be buried next to him.
·         The prophet Abijah speaks against Jeroboam.


·         Reigns 913-910
·         Tolerated by God on account of David
·         War with Jeroboam


·         Reigns 909-908
·         Bad


·         Reigns 910-869
·         Good
·         Destroys idols, though leaving the high places intact.
·         Buys favour of Ben-Hadad of Syria to prevent Baasha blocking the route from Israel into Judah at Ramah.


·         Reigns 908-886
·         Bad
·         Becomes king by killing Nadab and all the house of Jeroboam


·         Reigns 886-885
·         Killed by Zimri


·         Reign 885 for seven days
·         Bad
·         Kills Elah and the whole house of Baasha
·         Overthrown by Omri, an army commander


·         Reigns 885-874
·         Bad
·         Wins a civil war against Tibni


·         Reigns 872-848
·         Good king, but did not remove the high places
·         Is rescued at the battle against the Syrians that kills Ahab


·         Reigns 874-853
·         Bad
·         Builds temple to Baal at Samaria
·         Marries the Sidonian Jezebel
·         Defeats Ben-Hadad of Syria, but angers the Lord by making a covenant with him
·         Asks for the vineyard of Naboth, and obtains it when Jezebel falsely accuses Naboth of blasphemy and has him stoned.
·         Defers calamity to the days of his son because he humbles himself.
·         False prophets assure him of victory when fighting with Jehoshapat of Judah against the Syrians. He is killed.


·         no further details given in 1 Kings


·         no further details given in 1 Kings

The story of Elijah:

·         Declares a three year drought to Ahab.
·         Flees to Brook Cherith, where he is fed by ravens.
·         Miraculously provides bread from never-ending flour and oil for a widow at Zarephath, and brings her son back to life.
·         Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel – only Elijah’s sacrifice catches fire, despite not being lit. Elijah slaughters the prophets of Baal.
·         Threatened by Jezebel, Elijah flees into the wilderness. After wandering for forty days, the Lord speaks to him in a soft voice on mount Horeb.
·         Elijah commissions Elisha as a prophet.


David grows old, and is given Abishag for warmth. David does not know her. Adonijah, the son of David by Haggith, proclaims himself king. Adonijah invites his allies to a banquet. Key figures from David’s government (Zadok, Nathan and others) do not support Adonijah, however. Nathan tells Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, to complain to David that Adonijah has made himself king. She does so, and Nathan confirms her words, saying that Adonijah has performed sacrifices and is being feted by the people. David arranges for Solomon to be anointed at Gihon, riding on a mule and accompanied by Zadok, Nathan and other prominent figures. Adonijah fears the news, and his guests are afraid. Adonijah submits to Solomon, and his life is spared.


David advises Solomon to maintain a Deuteronomic obedience to the Lord. The covenant is mentioned, though here it is much more conditional than before. David warns Solomon to kill Joab and Shime, but spare Barzillai. David dies: he had reigned seven years at Hebron, and thirty three at Jerusalem. Adonijah asks Bathsheba to petition Solomon for Abishag. Solomon sees this as a challenge to the throne, and has Adonijah executed. Abiathar the priest, who had supported Adonijah, is exiled: his life is spared on account of having helped David carry the ark. Zadok replaces Abiathar. Joab is killed because he had shed the innocent blood of Abner and Amasa. Solomon spares the life of Shimei, but tells him never to cross the Brook Kidron; many years later he does, and is killed.


Solomon makes an alliance with Egypt, and marries the Pharaoh’s daughter. Solomon sacrifices extravagantly at the high places. In a dream, Solomon asks for understanding to judge his people and discern good from evil. God blesses Solomon. Two women claim the same son as theirs (the accusation is that one mother had stolen the baby after her one had died). Solomon proposes to cut the child in two, whereupon the real mother gives way, and is thus identified as the real mother.


Solomon’s officials and governors are listed. Judah and Israel have peace and prosperity under Solomon’s rule. Solomon provides extravagantly for his own household. Political stability and peace, and a vast cavalry. Solomon is famed for his wisdom, wrote proverbs and songs, and was an expert on science and nature.


Solomon plans to build the temple to God. He asks Hiram king of Tyre for cedar wood from Lebanon. A huge labour force is amassed. Solomon and Hiram work together.


Solomon builds temple. Temple dimensions, design and method of construction are described. David covenant (with telling conditional clauses) reaffirmed.





Solomon builds his and his wife’s house, taking thirteen years to do so. It included pillars, bevelled windows, a hall of judgment, and much splendour. Huram – half Israelite, half from Tyre – makes the furnishings for the temple.


Solomon calls Israel to Jerusalem, where the ark of covenant brought into the Holy of Holies in the new temple. The cloud of the Lord’s presence (shekinah) enters the temple, so that the preists cannot continue ministering. The temple dedicated, and the Davidic covenant is reaffirmed (with conditional clauses). Solomon expresses the hope that the Lord shall say of the temple, ‘My name shall be there’. God begged to hear supplications when Israelites are making oaths, have been defeated, are suffering from famine or plague, or have been taken captive in a foreign land. Solomon ends by enjoining loyalty, and walking in the way of the Lord’s statues. There is a huge feast with thousands of offerings made.


God answers Solomon’s prayer, reaffirming the David covenant conditionally. Solomon gives twenty cities in Galilee to Hiram, king of Tyre, in return for a supply of gold and cedar. The remnant Canaanite peoples are used as slave labour. Financing from joint naval expeditions with Hiram brings in gold.


The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon. She comes in great splendour, and tests him with hard questions, but he displays his wisdom, until there is no more spirit in her. The queen remarks on how blessed the Israelites are, and there is a royal exchange of gifts before she departs. The kingdom of Israel expands, becoming very rich and powerful. Examples of Solomon’s wealth are given: two hundred golden shields, golden drinking cups, and an ivory throne. He also has many horses – in direct disobedience of Deuteronomy 17:16.


Solomon has many foreign wives and concubines from the nations God had warned about. He also worships false gods, building altars and high places for them. As punishment, God says that he will tear the kingdom from the hands, not of Solomon (on account of his father), but of Solomon’s son. One tribe will be given to Solomon’s progeny, on account of David. Hadad the Edomite seeks revenge against Israel for Joab’s slaughter of Edomite men; Rezon of Zobah also becomes an enemy, mindful of David’s slaughter of the Zobahites. An internal enemy also emerges: Jeroboam, an Ephraimite in charge of some of Solomon’s construction projects, is encouraged by the prophet Ahijah, who tears his garment into twelve pieces, to symbolise the impending division of the kingdom. Jeroboam rebels against Solomon, and flees to Egypt. Solomon dies after forty years of rule.


Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, is made king at Shechem. Jeroboam comes from Egypt and petitions Rehoboam to ease the heavy yoke of his father. Rehoboam’s elder servants urge a conciliatory approach, his younger servants an aggressive one. Israel splits from Judah, and makes Jeroboam king. Rehoboam’s revenue collector, Adoram, is stoned to death. Shemiah the prophet warns against a planned battle between Judah and David and the rest of Israel, and so the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel is formed. Shechem is the new capital of the northern kingdom. Jeroboam sets up golden calves for worship at Bethel and Dan. He also makes high places, and creates non-Levitic priests.


A nameless ‘man of God’ prophesies the destruction of the altar at Bethel by Josiah. As a sign that man of God’s words are true, the altar splits in two and spews ash. When Jeroboam stretches out his hand to say, ‘Arrest him!’ his hand withers. The man of God prays for Jeroboam, and his hand is restored. An invitation to eat with Jeroboam is declined, because God had commanded to return without eating anything. An old prophet persuades the man of God to eat with him, then prophesies that he shall not come to the tomb of his fathers on account of his disobedience. A lion kills the man of God on his way back. The man of God is buried in Bethel, and the old prophet asks to be buried alongside him. High places proliferate.


Jeroboam’s son, Abijah, becomes sick, so Jeroboam’s wife disguises herself and visits Ahijah the prophet, who, with God’s help, is not fooled by her disguise, and speaks against Jeroboam. In the short term, his son would die, and in the long term, his whole house would be destroyed, and the northern kingdom would be scattered. Jeroboam dies, and is replaced as king by his son Nadab. Judah sins with high places and false worship. Egypt takes Judah’s wealth, including Solomon’s golden shields, which are replaced by bronze ones. Rehoboam dies, and is replaced as king by Abijam.


Abijam reigns for three years in Judah, and walks in the sins of his father. The Lord tolerates him on account of David. Abijam goes to war against Jeroboam. Asa is the next king of Judah; he does what is right in the eyes of the Lord, and reigns 41 years. He destroys idols, although the high places are left. Asa buys the favour of king Ben-Hadad of Syria to prevent Baasha king of Israel blocking the main route from Israel into Judah at Ramah. Nadab rules over Israel for two years, and does evil. Baasha rises up against Nadab, and kills all the house of Jeroboam, as Ahijah prophesied. Baasha reigns twenty years and does evil.


Baasha dies, and God says his house will be destroyed. Elah, his son, rules over Israel. Jehu prophesies against Elah. After he has reigned for two years, Zimri kills Elah and the entire house of Baasha, rules for seven days, and is overthrown by Omri, the commander of the army. Omri wins a civil war against Tibni, rules for twelve years during the reign of Asa, does evil, dies. Ahab his son rules Israel afterwards, and does evil, marrying Jezebel the Sidonian, and building a temple to Baal at Samaria. Hiel of Bethel rebuilds Jericho, challenging the curse in Joshua 6:26.


Elijah declares a three year drought to Ahab. God advises Elijah to flee to Brook Cherith, drink from the brook and be fed by ravens. The brook eventually dries up, so God tells Elijah to find a widow in Zarephath, who will provide for him. Elijah does so, but the widow says she is too poor to provide for Elijah. Miraculously, the widow makes bread, and her flour and oil does not run out. The widow’s son dies, so Elijah brings him back from the dead.


The drought comes to an end in Israel, followed by a famine. Obadiah is a God-fearing man in charge of Ahab’s house. Obadiah had protected fifty prophets when Jezebel had sought to kill them. When searching for water for livestock, Obadiah meets Elijah, and Elijah then meets the king. Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Asherah sacrifice on Mount Carmel. Fire consumes Elijah’s sacrifice, despite not being lit. The sacrifice of the other prophets does not catch fire, despite their prayers, for which Elijah mocks them. Elijah executes the false prophets. Rain falls in Israel. Ahab rides to Jezreel. Elijah does not ride, but the Lord girds his loins and brings him to Jezreel first.


Elijah is threatened by Jezebel. Elijah flees into the wilderness and wants to die. He is given food by an angel, wanders for forty days, then reaches Mount Horeb. Elijah witnesses strong winds, an earthquake and a fire, but the Lord is in none of them. The Lord actually speaks to Elijah is a quiet voice, asking what he is doing there. The Lord tells him to go to Damascus and anoint Hazael as king of Syria, and Jehu as king of Israel, and Elisha as the prophet to replace him. Those who worship Baal will be killed by one of the three. Elijah finds Elisha, and throws the mantle of the prophet on him.


Ben-Hadad of Syria threatens Ahab’s Samaria. Ahab is counselled by his elders to resist. A nameless prophet promises Ahab victory, which comes to pass. Israel wins a further battle against Syria the next spring – this time not on the hills, but on the plains. Ahab makes a covenant with the humbled Ben-Hadad. A prophet needs an injury to display to Ahab. He asks his neighbour to strike, and when he refuses, he is killed by a lion. Another man does strike the prophet, whereupon the prophet goes to Ahab disguised with a bandage, and tells the king he has lost a man he was supposed to be guarding. Ahab says he must pay with his life – the prophet uses this situation as an analogy to Ahab’s, predicting his death for the mercy he showed Ben-Hadad.


Ahab asks Naboth the Jezreelite for a vineyard, and Naboth refuses, because it is his inheritance. Jezebel has Naboth stoned to death through a false accusation of blasphemy. Ahab then takes possession of Naboth’s land. Elijah tells Ahab that in the place where dogs lick Naboth’s blood, they shall lick his also. The dogs shall also eat Jezebel, and the house of Ahab will be cut off like that of Jeroboam and Baasha. Ahab humbles himself, and so God defers calamity to the days of his son.


Ahab joins forces with Jehoshapat king of Judah to win Ramoth-Gilead from the Syrians. Jehoshapat seeks the advice of God via prophets. A group of four hundred unfaithful prophets say the combined forces of the northern and southern kingdoms will be victorious. Micaiah says the combined forces will be defeated – much as Ahab expected, given Micaiah’s negative words about him in the past. Micaiah says the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of the four hundred prophets. Micaiah is imprisoned. Jehoshapat and Ahab go into battle, the latter in disguise. Jehoshapat is rescued from attack, but Ahab is killed, and dogs lick his blood. Ahaziah the son of Ahab then rules the northern kingdom. Jehoshapat becomes king in the fourth year of Ahab’s reign, and reigns twenty five years. He was a good king, but did not remove the high places. Jehoram reigns after Jehoshapat.


  1. 1 King 11-12: Jeroboam's flight into Egypt following his rebellion against Solomon - an ironic parallel to the Exodus?

  2. Regnal formulae (in R. D. Nelson, The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History, 1981):

    • synchronism (ie the overlap with the reign of the king in the other kingdom – only up to Hoshea of Israel)
    • age at accession
    • length of reign
    • capital city
    • name of queen mother (Judah only)
    • moral verdict
    • source citation (with rhetorical question)
    • death and burial
    • successor