1 Kings 11 – “Solomon’s Apostasy; Solomon’s Death”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Solomon illicitly marries foreign women and becomes an idolater. God is furious and decides to split his kingdom in two. Although Solomon’s enemies grow in power, the king dies before his kingdom is torn apart.

II. Photo
Solomon’s story comes to an end: “The other events of Solomon’s reign, and all his actions and his wisdom, are recorded in the book of the Annals of Solomon.” (v. 41)

III. Important Verses
1-5: King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter — Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Phoenician, and Hittite women, from the nations of which the LORD had said to the Israelites, “None of you shall join them and none of them shall join you, lest they turn your heart away to follow their gods.” Such Solomon clung to and loved. He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned his heart away. In his old age, his wives turned away Solomon’s heart after other gods, and he was not as wholeheartedly devoted to the LORD his God as his father David had been. Solomon followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Phoenicians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
11-13: And the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you are guilty of this — you have not kept My covenant and the laws which I enjoined upon you — I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But, for the sake of your father David, I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it away from your son. However, I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give your son one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”
29-32: During that time Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem and the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh met him on the way. He had put on a new robe; and when the two were alone in the open country, Ahijah took hold of the new robe he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. “Take ten pieces,” he said to Jeroboam. “For thus said the LORD, the God of Israel: I am about to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands, and I will give you ten tribes. But one tribe shall remain his — for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.”

IV. Outline
1-3. Solomon’s forbidden wives
4-5. Solomon worships foreign gods
6-8. Solomon builds idolatrous temples
9-13. God decides to split Solomon’s kingdom
14-22. Hadad’s history
23-25. Rezon’s history
26-40. Jeroboam’s history; Ahijah promises him 10 tribes
41-43a. Summary statement; Solomon’s death
43b. Rehoboam becomes king

V. Comment
Chapter 11 tells the story of Solomon’s declivity: he marries forbidden women, worships foreign gods, and builds pagan temples. The nationalities of his forbidden wives are enumerated in vv. 1-2: “King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter — Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Phoenician, and Hittite women, from the nations of which the LORD had said to the Israelites, ‘None of you shall join them and none of them shall join you, lest they turn your heart away to follow their gods.” Such Solomon clung to and loved.’” The passage in the Pentateuch that these verses are “quoting” is Deuteronomy 7:1-4: “When the LORD your God brings you to the land that you are about to enter and possess, and He dislodges many nations before you — the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, seven nations much larger than you — and the LORD your God delivers them to you and you defeat them, you must doom them to destruction: grant them no terms and give them no quarter. You shall not intermarry with them: do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.  For they will turn your children away from Me to worship other gods, and the LORD’s anger will blaze forth against you and He will promptly wipe you out.”

One question that arises is: “Who were the Hittites?” Gregory McMahon notes that there are two disparate groups of “Hittites” mentioned in the Hebrew Bible: “In the biblical references to the Hittites two different groups may be discerned. One is a local people of Palestine, settled in the area around Hebron before Abraham’s arrival, the descendants of Canaan through the eponymous ancestor Heth. They lived in the heart of the land promised to the Israelites, so that God had to expressly command the Israelites to destroy them… Almost all of the references of Hittites in the OT fit into this picture of a local Canaanite people never quite eradicated in the Hebrew conquest of Canaan. There are, however, five references to Hittites which do not fit with this picture (IDB 2: 613–14)… These five references to the Hittites which on the basis of context may be understood as the Hittites of north Syria, that is, the Neo-Hittites, are also the only five occurrences of the plural form hittˆîm in the OT. This may mean nothing, but it could be some indication of a distinction made in the text between the Hittites of Palestine, descendants of Heth, and the Hittites of Anatolia and north Syria, the men of Hatti.” (Gregory McMahon, “Hittites in the OT,” ABD vol. 3 p. 233)

One final note about Solomon’s apostasy: the king’s pagan temples seem to have lasted many centuries. This is because 2 Kings 23:13 says: “The king also defiled the shrines facing Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of the Destroyer, which King Solomon of Israel had built for Ashtoreth, the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom, the detestable thing of the Ammonites.” This verse speaks of a time period ca. 640–609 BCE (Solomon reigned ca. 961–922 BCE).

Verse 41 mentions the first of many cited sources in the book of Kings: “The other events of Solomon’s reign, and all his actions and his wisdom, are recorded in the book of the Annals of Solomon.”  Collins writes: “A number of sources are explicitly identified in the books of Kings. First Kings 11:41 refers the reader to ‘the book of the acts of Solomon.’ There are several references to ‘the book of the annals of the kings of Judah’ (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.) and the corresponding annals of the kings of Israel (14:19; 15:31; 16:5, 14, etc.). None of these source books has survived. It is possible that they are entirely fictional, introduced to give an aura of authenticity to the account, but it seems likely that the author had some records of the kings of Israel and Judah at his disposal. It is widely assumed that chronicles were maintained at the royal courts of Israel and Judah, as they were in Egypt and Mesopotamia (for examples see ANET, 265-317). The best-known example of such a royal chronicle is the Babylonian Chronicle, which may be roughly contemporary with the Deuteronomistic History. Lists of kings were compiled in Mesopotamia from ancient times. Historical information was also recorded in royal inscriptions. The Near Eastern accounts are generally presented as lists of events, with little narrative elaboration. The books of Kings have much more developed narrative than the Mesopotamian chronicles, but they are generally less expansive than the stories in the books of Samuel.” (245)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
Photo taken from http://www.reconnections.net/Old_book.jpg

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