Translation of 1 Kgs 1:5-10 (MT)

5. And Andonijah ben Haggith raised himself, saying, “I, I will be king.” And he made for himself chariotry and horses and fifty men running before him.
6. And his father had not upset him from his days, saying, “to what end did you do thus?” And also he was of very good form. And him she bore after Absalom.
7. And his words were with Joab ben Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they helped behind [i.e., they supported] Adoniah.
8. And Zadok the priest and Benaiahu ben Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and the warriors who belonged to David, they were not with Adoniahu.
9. And Adoniahu sacrificed sheep and cattle and fattened calves with [= “at”?] the stone of Zoheleth [“Slithering Stone”] that was by the Rogel well. And he called all his brothers–the sons of the king–and to all of the men of Judah–the servants of the king.
10. And Nathan the prophet and Benaiahu and the warriors and Solomon, his brother, he did not call.

Comments on the Text

Verse five has, at first glance, nothing to do with the preceding material. The text reintroduces a character, namely Adoniah, the son of Haggith (and David, who is not named here). The last time he appeared was in a list of David’s sons in 2 Sam 3:4. The same is true of his mother. Adoniah is said to “raise himself,” an unusual reflexive form of a common verb, and proclaim his ascendency to the throne. Both verbal forms used for Adoniah here are unique in the Hebrew Bible. The remainder of the verse serves to cast Adoniah in a suspicious light, in that it strongly echoes the description of Absalom, David’s son. Second Samuel 15:1 reports the beginning of Absalom’s revolt against his father. Though the terms for chariotry and horses differ in these cases, the intention seems to be clear: Adoniah is revolting against his father, just as his brother previously had. So, while the first half of the verse recounts something distinct, the latter half sounds distinctly familiar to anyone who knows the stories of the book of Samuel.

Verse six relates Adoniah to his father, who is not named nor is his office mentioned. The verb “upset” has not appeared in the Hebrew Bible since 2 Sam 19:3, where it describes the king’s (David’s) mourning for his son Absalom (incidentally, it is also the term used for the pain of a woman in childbirth in Gen 3:16, if that matters). That is, the connection here points back to the Absalom story, just as the preceding material. The mention of Adoniah’s appearance might seem unusual initially, but it relates his both the David and Absalom (cf. 1 Sam 16:12, 18; and 2 Sam 14:25). Unusually, the final phrase in this verse returns back to Adoniah’s mother, mentioned in v. 5. At least, the subject is feminine. However, the phrase would suggest that Haggith was also the mother of Absalom, which was not the case according to 2 Sam 3:3-4, which notes that different mothers bore Absalom and Adoniah.

Verse seven turns to Adoniah’s supporters, namely Joab and Abiathar. Both of them play important roles in Samuel. Joab killed the usurper Absalom (2 Sam 18:14), and Abiathar supported David in his quests against Saul and Absalom. Both of these men are mentioned to prepare for the resolutions of their stories in chapter 2 and their supporting Adoniah anticipates what that resolution will be.

The next verse, v. 8, establishes a second group against Adoniah, who now suddenly has a differently spelled name, “Adoniahu.” All of the men mentioned here served David (who is also mentioned here for the first time since v. 1) in some capacity or another. Again, with the exception of Shimei and Rei, the names mentioned anticipate what happens in chapter 2 and the rest of chapter 1. Here it becomes conspicuous that Adoniah/u did not have prophetic support. The formulation is also unclear: did Adoniah/u not seek to work with these men? Or why were they not with him?

The division of the groups continues in vv. 9-10. Verse 9 reports that Adoniahu essentially throws a grill party and invites the important people in the kingdom, particularly the (once again nameless) king’s sons and servants. Should this be understood as Adoniah/u’s attempt to lull them to his side? A note on the locations: En Rogel should apparently be understood as some kind of boundary location between Judah and Benjamin (cf. Jos 15:7 and 18:16); the Slithering Stone does not appear elsewhere in the Bible.

The episode here concludes here by mentioning whom Adoniah/u did not invite to the party. With the exception of Solomon, this repeats data already noted in v. 8 (though now without the priest). Conspicuously, Solomon is described as Adoniah/u’s brother, but obviously was not included among the “sons of the king” in v. 9. Is that a jab at Solomon, perhaps questioning his parentage or offering a different background for him than that reported in 2 Sam 12?

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