The King is Dead – Long Live the King

I Kings 1:1-6

What was the relationship between the aging David and the young beautiful Avishag?  Can you support your answer from the text?

What might be Avishag’s official status?  What significance does it have?

What was Adoniah’s claim to the throne?

He is not the first of David’s sons to have a chariot, cavalry, and 50 men running in front of his entourage.  Check II Sam 15:1.  What happened there?  Is the narrator of our story aware of that episode?

While David has, usually, enjoyed the image of a charismatic warrior who is loved by all, this opening paragraph seems to be highlighting some areas where David had shortcomings.  Try to find 3 such areas here.  (The Gemara bellow tries to point to one.)


תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף סב עמוד ב

(שמואל א’ כ”ד) “ויקם דוד ויכרת את כנף המעיל אשר לשאול בלט” אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא: כל המבזה את הבגדים סוף אינו נהנה מהם, שנאמר (מלכים א’ א’) והמלך דוד זקן בא בימים ויכסהו בבגדים ולא יחם לו.

Talmud Bavli Tractate Berakhot 62b

(I Sam 24)  “David got up and cut off the corner of Saul’s cloak stealthily.”  R. Jose son of R. Hanina said:  Anyone who disrespects the clothing, will not benefit from them in the end, as it is said (I Kings 1) “King David was now old, advanced in years; and they covered him with clothing but he never felt warm.”

I Kings 1:7-10

Make a chart of who is in Adoniah’s camp and who is not.  How many of them have you met before?

Can you think of reasons why some of these people took the sides that they took?

I Kings 1:11-31

In what roles does Bath Sheba appear in this section? (Some are even spelled out by the narrator!)

How does the character of Nathan the Prophet here compare with what we saw of him during the previous class?  What seems to have been his role in the court?

V. 15 is loaded with information, most of which we already know. What is the verse adding to the story?

Does Bath Sheba follow Nathan’s instructions?  Is her behavior a sign of intelligence and shrewdness, or of stupidity?  Explain.

How does Nathan’s speech compare to that of Bath Sheba?

Based on the language in vv.28-31, what kind of a relationship does David have with Bath Sheba at this point?

Note v.29 is a typical oath in the name of God.  The missing, but assumed, piece of such an oath is the penalty that God will inflict upon the oath-taker should he fail to fulfill the oath.

I Kings 2:13-25

V.13 is full of titles.  What is the significance of each? (Titles are often a way for the narrator to draw the reader’s attention to the possible interests and view points of the characters.)

Adoniah is introduced as the speaker at the end of v. 13 and again at the beginning of v.14.  What is strange about that?  Try to offer an explanation.

How does Adoniah understand everything that happened in the previous chapter?

Why does Adoniah ask for Avishag?  How could such a request be interpreted?

Why does Bath Sheba bring his request to Solomon?  ?  Is her behavior a sign of intelligence and shrewdness, or of stupidity?  Explain.

How does Solomon understand the situation?

I Kings 2:26-27

What is Ebjathar the Kohen’s punishment for supporting the usurper?

I Kings 2:28-34

Joab’s case is more difficult.  Solomon was instructed by David (I Kings 2:5-6) to kill him to avenge the blood of 2 deaths that David felt were not warranted (“clean blood”.)

Why does Joab not obey Solomon’s command to leave the alter?

Why did Joab, who was endlessly loyal to David (perhaps more than David wished for,) not honor David’s choice of heir?

Bringing it all together:

Jerusalem is no longer a “start-up” city.  It seems inevitable that the court has reached a certain maturity, complete with political parties and intrigues.  For a change, David is not portrayed as a dashing king and brilliant warrior, his failures as a statesman, a father (and a husband?) are shown.  Why did David not make it clear who is his chosen heir?  Why did he leave Solomon with these clean up missions, rather than take care of them himself?  How does Solomon establish himself as a king?  What is the view of the narrator of his actions?  (Do similar things happen today?)

For Inquiring Minds…..

This section is intended to give you some background and extra material.  Enjoy it or ignore it J.

I Kings 1:32-53.

We will not study this passage in depth, but rather try to get the main information it contains:  The coronation of Solomon, the break up of the revolt.  Here are a few things worth noticing:

V.35 is very similar to II Samuel 5:1-3 (go back to the first class).

Jonathan son of Ebjathar gives the rebels an account of the coronation.  The narrator lets the reader listen in:  Note the unpolished speech Jonathan’s breathlessness due to his running.  The instant effect of his speech tells us how correct he was in assuming that the news was worth delivering.

Note Adoniah’’s behavior in v. 50.  What does it mean?  (You may also want to look at Ex. 21:14.)  How does Solomon respond?

Ebjathar the Kohen:

The prophecy referred to in 2:27  regarding the house of ‘Eli appears in I Sam 2:27-36.  It begins to come true in I Sam 4:11-22.

Joab son of Zrujah:

  • The story regarding Abner ben Ner appears in II Sam 2-3.
  • The story of Amasa appears in II Sam 18:9-17, 19:1-14, 20:4-12.
  • For extra complications, check the family tree in I Chronicles 2:12-17.

Go to Next Class – In Solomon’s Kingdom