Kings 1

Solomon replaces David after his death. After Solomon, the kingdom splits into Israel and Judah. The prohet Elijah triumphs over Israel's king Ahab and his Philistine wife Jezebel.


King David had gotten so old that he could not even get warm with blankets. So his servants sent him beautiful young virgin, named Abishag, to lie with him for warmth, but they did not have sex (1:1-4). Without David’s knowledge, Adonijah, his second oldest son declared himself king. Two of his supporters were Joab, his commander, and the priest, Abiathar. When David was told of Adonijah’s impudence, he quickly named Solomon his successor. There was a fear that Adonijah might fight for the throne, but he was too afraid of Solomon to jeopardize his life (1:5-53).

David had some last words for Solomon before he died. Do not forget what Joab had done to Abner and Amasa; do not let him die in peace. Be loyal to the sons of Barzillai who were loyal to him when he fled from Absalom. Kill Shimei to whom he once promised not to kill for cursing him. David ruled for forty years and Solomon’s kingdom was firmly established (2:1-13).

Adonijah did not dispute his brother’s inheritance to the throne, but he had his eye on Abishag, David’s nurse. What harm could it do, he thought, if he had Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, ask Solomon for her as a wife. So Solomon, in his wisdom, had him killed on the pretense that he was scheming for the throne (2:13-25). Additionally he banished Abiathar the priest, for supporting Adonijah. If it were not for his loyalty to David, Solomon would have killed him (2:26-27).

When Joab heard what had happened, he knew he was next. Hoping for sanctuary, he stayed in the tabernacle. So Solomon had him killed there and dragged out and buried (2:28-34).

Solomon told Shimei to build himself a house in Jerusalem and stay there. If he leaves it he will be put to death. About three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves had escaped. Shimei went after them and brought them back. When Solomon heard about the incident, he had Shimei killed (2:36-46).


In his early years, Solomon may have loved his God, but when it came to women, he didn’t care what God his wives loved. His first wife was Pharaoh’s daughter. The law forbids marrying outside the faith; but sometimes God doesn’t enforce the law.


One day he went to Gibeon to make sacrifices. Like a genie, God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask what I should give you.” An understanding mind and the ability to understand good from evil, he answered. God was pleased that Solomon did not ask for long life or riches or for the life of his enemies (3:11). He did not have to. He was already rich and his enemies were all conquered. So God gave him the wisdom he asked for. Then he awoke; it had been a dream (3:15). He did not talk to God at all.


Two prostitutes came to him one day. They lived together with no one else. Within three days they each had a baby. One prostitute complained that the other killed her baby accidentally when she lay on him. Then she exchanged babies while she was sleeping. When she awoke she saw that the dead baby was not hers. The other prostitute denied the story. Solomon decided that the best way to solve the problem was to give each prostitute half a baby. When the king fetched his sword, the first mother pleaded for him to give the baby to the other instead of killing him. The first mother got the baby and Solomon’s reputation grew. There is no hint if Solomon was bluffing. If neither woman spoke up, his reputation would have shrunk (3:16-28).


Solomon ruled over land from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines to the borders of Egypt. All the conquered kingdoms paid taxes to Solomon. Judah and Israel lived in safety; they had plenty of food and they were happy. And Solomon himself lived a life of indulgence. He even had 40,00 stalls of horses for his chariots and 12,000 horsemen. He was wise on almost any subject. He even composed 3,000 proverbs and 1005 songs. People from all nations came to hear his wisdom.

At the height of Israel’s political power, the kingdom of Solomon was tiny. If landmass and population are measures of a God’s power, than the God of Israel was a minor God relative to the religions that surrounded Israel. A lot of the Bible is braggadocio.


The time was right to build a house for God. When David was king, there was too much warfare. Now there was peace (5:3-5). 30,000 men were forced into labor. He employed another 70,000 laborers and 80,000 stonecutters and 3,000 supervisors to do the work (5:13-16). The sanctuary measured 90 feet long by 30 feet wide and 45 feet high (6:2). It was built with the best wood and stone money could buy. There was gold and silver ornamentation all over the place. It took seven years to complete (6:38).

Solomon built for himself a bigger house than the one he built for God. It took him thirteen years to build his own house. It was 150 feet long by 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. He had the sense though, not build his house higher than the temple (7:1,2). Construction of both buildings took twenty years (9:10).


When the temple was completed, they brought in the Ark of the Covenant inside and set it in its place under two cherubim [winged angels]. They did not make David’s mistake. In accordance to law, Levite priests carried the ark by its poles. Then they sacrificed more sheep and oxen then they could count (8:5). Actually they did count 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep (8:63). It must have more bloody than a slaughterhouse. When they opened the ark, they found two tablets that Moses had placed there at Horeb [Mt. Sinai] (8:9). At that time, according to Ex 34:11, God made a covenant with the people of Israel. He promised to drive out the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. When the priests left, a cloud filled the temple; it was God. Solomon blessed the people and said a prayer. They partied for seven days and on the eighth day they went home.

God REAPPEARS — 9:1-9

God appeared to Solomon a second time as he did at Gibeon, in other words, in a dream. He dreamt he was God talking to his person. Keep the faith, he said to himself, and your throne will last forever. Break the faith and you will bring disaster upon yourself.

ON SLAVE LABOR — 9:15-22

If there was such thing as reincarnation, then it must have been the Canaanite people of Gezer. In Josh 10:33, Joshua killed the king and his people, leaving no survivors. In Josh 16:10, Joshua did not drive out the people; instead he made them slaves. In 2 Sam 25:5, David killed the Philistines in Gezer. Now we find that Pharaoh burned down the city and killed the Canaanites. Then he gave Solomon the ruins as a dowry for his daughter, Solomon’s wife. And still, the people managed to come back from the dead as slaves to help build the temple.

And let us not forget God’s promise to destroy all aliens living in the Promised Land. Instead he left the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites to work as slaves (9:20). The excuse was that the Israelites were unable to destroy them completely (9:21). But if they were slaves then they were defenseless. The Gibeonites are the only recorded exception. In Judges 2:2,3, an angel scolded the people: “For your part, do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my command. See what you have done! So now I say, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become adversaries to you, and their gods shall be a snare to you." After all that snarling and growling by an angel, Solomon uses aliens to build God’s sanctuary. Whatever God thought of this, nobody knows. Because Solomon did not communicate with God, he only dreamt he communicated with God. None of the people of Israel and Judah were enslaved (9:22).


When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s wisdom, she came to test him with hard questions. She was impressed by the wisdom of answers, they exchanged gifts and she left (10:1-13). This was the climax of Solomon’s great reputation.

The revenue poured in at about a rate of 800,000 ounces a year. At the current price of $400 per ounce, that equals about $320 million. As fast as he could collect the taxes he spent it (10:14-29). “Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom” (10:23). There is no mention of his sharing his wealth with the people. By monetary standards, Israel was actually a tiny kingdom.

His lust for money was only exceeded by his lust for women. They say that power is a great aphrodisiac and Solomon was no exception. Contrary to Mosaic law to avoid relationships with alien women, “King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women” (11:1). He had 700 wives and 300 mistresses (11:3). Solomon began to let his wives influence him. He kept them happy by worshiping their gods in their way (11:4-8). Given how brutish this God is, one has to wonder if other gods were nicer gods. They certainly attracted a larger following.


Let us not forget what God said to David through the prophet Nathan, in 2 Sam 7:16, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. ” If dreams count, then God appeared to Solomon twice. On the third time no dream is mentioned but he vented his anger at Solomon for breaking his covenant. For the sake of David, he would not tear down Solomon’s kingdom during his lifetime. He would choose a son and tear away the entire kingdom except for one tribe (11:9-13).

Solomon had three adversaries who made trouble for him. Hadad was an Edomite who managed to escape to Egypt when David and Joab were killing all the males in Edom. Hadad made friends with Pharaoh, even marrying his sister-in-law. When he heard that David and Joab were dead, he left Egypt for Edom (11:14-22).

Another was Rezon, an Aramean who settled in Damascus and became king (11:23-25).

The other was Jeroboam, an Ephraimite from the house of Joseph. When the prophet, Ahijah was alone with Jeroboam, he tore his new garment he was wearing into twelve pieces. It would seem like Ahijah must have stood nude before Jeroboam when he told that him the kingdom will be taken away from Solomon’s son — ten tribes — and given to him. The son will be left with one tribe. The idea was to punish the descendants of David, but not forever. How Solomon learned about this secret conversation is not mentioned. Jeroboam had to flee to Egypt where he stayed until Solomon died (11:26-40). Solomon died after a forty-year reign; his son Rehoboam succeeded him. Whatever was to become of the twelfth tribe is not mentioned. Perhaps the writer’s arithmetic was not too good.


When Rehoboam’s kingship was official, the people came to him and complained about the high taxes imposed on them by Solomon. Rehoboam first consulted with Solomon’s advisers. They suggested going easier on the people so they will remain loyal. Then he consulted with his friends of his generation. They suggested even higher taxes. So Rehoboam told the people: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions" (12:1-14).

The rebellion got officially started when the people of Israel stoned to death, the king’s taskmaster over the forced labor. Rehoboam hurried to Jerusalem in Judah for safety and troops. He gathered 180,000 men to fight against the northern territory of Israel. But the prophet, Shemaiah, told the people to go home and they did. He ruled over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (12:15-24).

After Solomon died, Jeroboam who was in exile in Egypt, returned in time to witness Rehoboam’s crowning and the rebellion (12:2). The people of Israel called him and made him king over all Israel. The reason given was that there were no other descendants from the house of David (12:20). Imagine that. Solomon had had 700 wives and 300 mistresses. But he had no other sons except for Rehoboam.

Jeraboam made Shechem the new capital of Israel. Jeraboam must have assimilated into Egyptian culture. He couldn’t let his people go to Jerusalem where the temple was. He feared they became loyal to Rehoboam again and he would be killed. So he made two calves of gold and set one in Bethel and the other in Dan. He created a new God he called “Oisrael,” complete with priests, ceremonies and rituals (12:25-33). The last time the people worshipped a golden calf was during the time of Moses in Exodus 32. In that incident, God inflicted a severe plague.

THE MAN OF god — 13:1-32

One day when Jeroboam was standing by the pagan altar at Bethel, a man of God from Judah came to him. “A man named Josiah from the house of David will come to destroy you and your altar,” he proclaimed. Jeroboam pointed to the man saying, “Seize him!” Whereupon his hand withered [dried] so he could not pull it back; the altar broke down and ashes poured out. Jeroboam pleaded to the man to pray to God for his hand; he did and it was restored. “Come eat with me”, said the king to the man. “No, because I was commanded by God not to eat or drink in this place,” said the man. On his way home, he met an old prophet in Bethel. The prophet invited him to eat. “No,” he said, “I cannot eat or drink in this place because God commanded it.” “But,” said the prophet, “an angel spoke to me and told me to bring you back for food and water” — he was lying. The man of God went back with him and ate and drank in his house. On the road home, a lion attacked him and killed him. People passed by and saw the lion and his unharmed donkey standing beside his body. When they told the old prophet, his reaction was that he deserved it for disobeying God.

JEROBOAM’S LAST DAYS — 13:33-14:20

The man of God did not cause Jeroboam to change his ways; for he still continued to authorize more priests. Then his son, Abijah, fell sick. So Jeroboam told his wife to go in disguise to the prophet Ahijah, who predicted his kingship. When she arrived, he was blind from old age but he recognized her anyway. The news he gave her was all bad. For sinning against God, her told her, every male belonging to Jeroboam will be consumed “just as one burns up dung until it is all gone.” Dogs will eat anyone, who dies in the city and birds will eat whoever dies in the open country. When you re-enter your city, your child will die. So when she returned home, her child died. How Jeroboam died is not mentioned, but his reign lasted 22 years. His son Nadob succeeded him.


Rehoboam was 41 when he became king; his reign lasted 17 years. The people of Judah committed more sins then all their ancestors. They worshipped pagan idols and even had “male temple prostitutes” in the land. In his fifth year, the king of Egypt invaded Jerusalem and took all the gold treasures in the temple. Rehoboam and Jeroboam fought constantly. How Rehoboam died is not known. His son Abijam succeeded him.


Abijam’s reign lasted only three years. The war begun between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continued all the days of his life. And he is said to have committed all the sins of his father. There was a time when God liked to see Hittites get killed. He is compared to David with the phrase “David did what was right in the sight of the lord…except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” — 15:1-7

Abijam’s son Asa became the next king of Judah. His reign lasted forty-one years. He was called a good king because he got rid of the temple prostitutes and the pagan idols. He even had his own mother “removed… from being queen mother” because she made an “abominable image for [the God] Asherah.” The title “queen mother” is a birthright.” So in biblespeak, the only way to “remove” her birthright is to kill her. The war between Asa and King Baasha of Israel continued throughout his years. He took whatever treasure of gold and silver left in Solomon’s temple and gave some to his servants and some to the king of Damascus [in Syria]. The Syrians accepted Asa’s tribute and invaded and conquered several cities in Israel. Asa’s son Jehoshaphat succeeded him. — 15:8-24

Asa was called a good king because he removed pagan influences from Judah. And yet he pillaged sacred treasures from the “house of the lord” and even gave some to an alien king. Even forming alliances with alien nations was once condemned (Deut 7:1, 2).

On the Israel side at the time of Asa was Nadab son of Jeroboam. He was also called evil but no explanation is given. He only lasted two years until Baasha from the tribe of Issachar killed him. — 15:25-28

Baasha’s first act as king was to kill every living relative of Jeroboam. Baasha, by the way, was the son of the prophet Ahijah who predicted the end of Jeroboam’s family. Ironically it was Ahijah’s son who fulfilled the prophecy. The war continued against Judah at the time of Asa. His reign lasted twenty-four years. It was the prophet Jehu who came to Baasha to blame him for his peoples sins. In those days, leaders were punished for the acts of their followers and followers were punished for the acts of their leaders. Jehu condemned him for sinning like Jeroboam and for murdering Jeroboam’s family. Ahijah would not fully agree. — 15:29-16:7

Baasha’s son Elah took over for his father but he lasted only two years. His commander Zimra struck him down and killed him when he was drunk. As soon as Zimra became king he killed Baasha’s entire family. These acts were according to the prophet Jehu who had condemned Baasha for killing Jeroboam’s family. He was in power only seven days when his troops conspired against him for killing their king. So the newly named king Omri went against Zimra where he lived in Capitol City of Tirzah. When Zimra saw the city taken, he burned down his house with him in it. — 16:8-20

Now the people of Israel were divided in two parts — one half followed Tibni and the other half followed Omri. Eventually the people of Omri overcame the people of Tibni and Omri reigned over Israel for twelve years, six of them in Tirzah. He established a new capitol in Samaria and was even more evil than those before him. Samaria became the center of Baal worship. — 16:21-28

Next was Omri’s son Ahab who was reputed to be the worst of all the kings. He lasted twenty-two years. He married Jezebel, a Phoenician from Sidon. Influenced by his wife, he worshipped the God Baal. — 16:29-34


It was Elijah the prophet who told Ahab that he would stop all rain and dew until he decides to change his mind. Now Elijah was one of God’s most prominent prophets. Once he hid by a brook at Cherith. He drank from the brook and ravens brought him bread and meat in morning and evening. When the brook dried up he went to a widow at Zaraphath in Phoenicia. When he saw the widow she was gathering sticks. He called to her to bring him water. As she was going to get the water he asked her to bring him bread. But then she said to him that she has nothing but a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug. She was gathering sticks so she could prepare what little food she has left. Afterwards she expected her and her son to die. So Elijah to use what she had left to make cakes for all her, her son and him. Then he made the jar of meal and the jug of oil stay full until the rain resumed. In the next incident, her son became ill and died. The widow blamed Elijah. So Elijah put the boy on his own bed, stretched himself over the boy three times and prayed. The boy came back to life. The Bible book of records credits Elijah as the first to revive a dead human. It wasn’t Jesus.


Elijah was well known by this time as a man of God. It was in the third year of the drought when Elijah decided to visit Ahab. It was also a time when Jezebel was killing off the Jewish prophets. Then there was Obadiah who was in charge of Ahab’s palace. He secretly hid a hundred prophets in two caves and managed to feed them with bread and water. (A punishment by today’s standards.) Obadiah did this because he revered God. How his devotion remained unknown to Jezebel is not explained.

One day Ahab sent Obadiah out to find grass in the rain starved land. When he met Elijah he was immediately awed. But when Elijah ordered him to tell Ahab of arrival he was reluctant because he feared Ahab would kill him. Anyway, Obadiah told Ahab and Ahab went to meet Elijah. So they arranged a meeting with the Israelites and 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah at Mount Carmel. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a test to see whose God was the strongest. They each took a bull and cut it into pieces and lay it on firewood. From morning to noon the prophets cried to their God to start the fire but there was no response. Elijah mocked them. Then “they cut themselves with swords and lances until blood gushed out over them.” By midday they had to give up. Then it was mighty Elijah’s turn. He took twelve stones and built an altar. Then he made a trench around the altar. Next he stacked the wood, cut the bull, laid it on the wood, and saturated the wood with twelve jarfuls of water. Said a couple of prayers and woof; the fire consumed the bull, the wood, the water, and even the stones.

Then at Elijah’s command, the people seized the 450 prophets of Baal and killed them on the spot — the 400 prophets of Asherah were not involved. And then Elijah went to the top of Carmel and prayed for rain. And the rains came.


When Ahab told his wife Jezebel what Elijah had done, she sent Elijah a message of her vow to have him killed. He could have had God set Jezebel on fire but instead he feared for his life and fled into the wilderness. He prayed to die, but on two occasions an angel supplied him with a jar of water and cake baked on hot stones. On the strength of what he ate and drank, he traveled forty days and forty nights to a cave at Horeb [Mount Sinai]. According to the Bible book of records, the forty-day total fast was first accomplished by Moses at Sinai (Ex 34:28).

While Elijah was in his cave on top of the mountain, he told God an untruth. He said that the Israelites were against God and out to kill him, and that he was the only prophet left. This was after the born-again Israelites killed the 450 prophets of Baal at his command. After Obadiah hid 100 Jewish prophets in two caves. And it was Jezebel who wanted him dead, not the Israelites. God’s reaction was to make a wind so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces. After the wind he made an earthquake. After the earthquake he made a fire and after the fire there was silence. Elijah’s cave was untouched by the havoc all around him. When he heard the silence he came out of the cave. Then God told him to anoint Hazael as king over Aram [Syria], Jehu as king over Israel and Elisha as prophet in his place. Only 7,000 Israelites willl be spared because they did not worship Baal, says God. “Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.” Elisha was the first to be recruited. He said good bye to his family by slaughtering his twelve oxen, boiling them, and giving them to the people to eat. Their stories are elaborated in 2 Kings.


The Aramean King Ben-hadad forged an alliance with thirty-two other kings to go against Ahab at the capitol in Samaria. They laid siege to the city and demanded all of Ahab’s gold and silver and his best wives and children. Ahab refused. So on the day of attack all the kings were drunk. The Israelites “defeated the Arameans with a great slaughter” that day. The gods of that day were territorial. The Arameans thought that they should attack again in the plain instead of on the hills. Also they thought they would win if they replaced the kings with commanders. In the battle to follow, the Arameans lost 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. The rest fled to Aphek where the city wall fell on 27,000 men. Ben-hadad knew he was defeated so he proposed a treaty with Ahab, promising to restore the land he took and to allow the Israelites trade in Damascus. Ahab accepted.

One prophet said to another prophet, “Strike me!” The man refused. Then the prophet scolded him for disobeying God and told him a lion will kill him. When the second prophet left, he met a hungry lion. The prophet went to another man with the same command. So the man hit him and wounded him. Now he could put a bandage over his eyes to disguise himself. When he got close to Ahab he took off the bandage. For making peace with Ben-hadad instead of killing him, Ahab was to die, said the prophet.


Naboth had a vineyard that was next door to Ahab’s palace garden. Seeking to expand his garden, Ahab offered Naboth a generous price for the vineyard, but Naboth would not sell. Unlike a grown man, he became depressed and would not eat. Sensing her husband’s disappointment she schemed to get the garden for him. Using the king’s seal, she proclaimed a fast. Naboth was seated at the head of the assembly and two scoundrels sat opposite him. The scoundrels then charged Naboth with cursing God and the king. So the people took Naboth outside and stoned him. As soon as Ahab heard the news, he took possession of the vineyard.

God was displeased at what Ahab did. (Killing one person over a garden was a serious sin. But killing hundreds of thousands for an entire nation was not.) So he sent a message to Ahab through Elijah. With chilling directness, Elijah said, “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood." And concerning Jezebel, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel. Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat." When Ahab heard these words he humbled himself. So God, with his usual perverted logic, promised to leave him alone and punish his son instead.


During Ahab’s days, Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah (15:24). For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel until Ahab conspired with Jehoshaphat to take Ramoth-gilead from the Arameans. But before they would engage the Arameans, they thought is best to consult with the prophets. Four hundred of their prophets predicted victory, yet still they were not satisfied until they consulted one more. The name Micaiah came up but Ahab didn’t like him because he was always making unfavorable predictions. Still, they consulted Micaiah and as Ahab expected, the prediction was unfavorable. Ahab, he said, would be tempted into battle where he will die because God will make the prophets lie.

So Micaiah was put into prison and fed on a reduced ration of bread and water. He was not to be released until Ahab returned. But, says Micaiah, if you return in peace then God has not spoken to me. When the two kings prepared to take Ramoth-gilead Ahab decided to disguise himself as a soldier instead of a king. The Aramean chariot drivers were under orders to fight with no one but the king of Israel. When they saw Jehoshaphat in his robes they chased after him until they saw it was not Ahab. But Ahab was not as safe as he thought he would be. As it happens when arrows are flying everywhere, an arrow struck him in the chest. He chariot driver brought him to the rear of the battle but by evening he died from losing too much blood. They washed his chariot by the pool of Samaria. Dogs lapped up the bloody water and prostitutes washed themselves in it. So it says. It doesn’t say, but Micaiah probably remained in jail for as long as he could survive on a reduced ration of bread and water.

Jehoshaphat was called a good king even though his subjects still worshipped other gods. His son Jehoram succeeded him after his thirty-five year reign. Ahaziah succeeded his father Ahab. But he lasted only two years. He served Baal too. Over and over again we read of rampant apostasy. Could it be that Baal was a much nicer God then this brutish Hebrew God?